Elaine Kehew

Painter and Surface Pattern Designer

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Shanghai Skies: A Chinoiserie Fabric Collection

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PATTERN STORY:

In the 1920s, Shanghai was considered the Paris of the East. A city filled with glamour and romance, Shanghai was a major trading post and port for international travelers. Filled with wealthy businessmen and their ladies, the aesthetic culture was very high and vibrant, with artists producing paintings, woodblock prints, and beautiful fabric. In the 1927 Massacre of Shanghai, revolution and civil war tore the city apart, and many citizens were forced to flee Shanghai and abandon their romantic lifestyles. The birds in flight pattern (Plum Blossom with Nightingale) represents flight from their beloved city. The lanterns evoke the street festivals of light, and the Poppy pattern expresses the indomitable hope of the Shanghai people. The geometric blender reflects the chaos of busy city streets, and the bamboo print, a return to nature after the revolution. The soft pink coordinate is a nostalgic yearning for the old Shanghai by immigrants to fled to many countries, including USA and Canada.

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Spot Graphic coordiates for stationery or garment or home decor products.

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Here is the completed collection for now. I am looking forward to making some spot graphics and perhaps templating an item or two. Do all of the coordinates have to match all of the coordinates? I hate to change my brown geometric or the subtle colors of the blender prints- have I enough of the red throughout? Thank you- this has been great fun!

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Finally, a hero print that I can get behind. I really like the big blobby poppy flowers, and the filler elements, and I also am happy down-playing the lantern shape and the line work for a more consistent overall feeling.

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The collection (above) as it stands now. I am still trying to refine the shapes of the hero print for both color and style, and I am tempted at this point to go back to the drawing board so that the dragons are less cartoony and more painterly, and so the peony flower elements are less like roses with bold outlines and more like the beautiful delicate peonies that the Eastern artists drew so gracefully. I like the blender prints, and I am liking the palette with the purply grays and plummy colors. I am also trying for flow, which is such a challenge !! More tomorrow :0)

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Still perfecting the Hero print, and decided to work on a few blender prints. Am pretty happy with the above Bamboo design, because I was looking for the vertical qualities of a stripe without a continuous strip, and with a more organic and Asian feeling, which I think is achieved here. Not sure about the color, and again I am not in love with the stroke in illustrator, but don't feel it's too cartoony here...

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Here is the bamboo blender with a different complementary color (but those blue outlines have gotta go!)

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Have begun digitizing sketches and placing them into the Hero Print screen.The images are coming out a bit more cartoony and less painterly than I was hoping for, but I will persist with the AI work so that I can learn to make scalable patterns...

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Here are a few sketches that I am pulling from...

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I am fascinated by patterns that include branching or vining that is continuous and vertical. I am also enticed by sumi-e ink lines, and wanted to get some of that working for this pattern (not a hero pattern)

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Here is an early draft of a Chinoiserie repeating pattern in Photoshop-- trying to improve my Ai skills to convert these images to Illustrator. Notice the ink branches from above photo 1.

I am drawn to the mystery and magic of Chinoiserie- particularly the 1800's Western interpretation of Chinese and Japanese art, which is a bit simplified and stylized, but distills Eastern design. Peonies are beautiful, the dragons and horses and birds are magical, and I want to explore the mystery and magic of the traditional Orient. 

The lanterns below are super fun to draw... i am hoping to do a blender pattern with these where the lanterns fit inside the curves of the adjacent lantern.... in subtle colors.

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Still totally in love with the idea of peonies and dragons being the centerpiece of my hero pattern. Also perhaps nightingales.

I am totally convinced that bamboo would make a super vertical and geometric (organic) blender. Especially if it's in grey and blue, and not the traditional bold green.

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