Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Woodland Animals are Done!

This has been a really fun project. Originally my friend asked if I'd make a set of animals for her new baby's room. I admit, she had a little input in the beginning, but I quickly took over completely because I was having such a good time!

They also look nice without color. I challenged myself to have a good mix of black and white with lots of texture and pattern. At the same time, I wanted to keep the images simple since they were for a baby. I sure hope baby Skylar likes his new artwork!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Introducing Myself

I listen to a lot of podcasts while I'm doing artwork. There's a pretty new one called Stories Unbound about creating children's picture books and it has some great interviews. The most recent one is an interview with the fantastic Jake Parker and I definitely recommend it. 

One of the things Jake suggested is that you can reintroduce yourself online- share your goals and dreams and your background. I really liked that idea! With social media we all see each other more often including the projects we are working on daily, but we don't often see the big picture or direction of someone's life. So here's my attempt at introducing myself. :)

Hi there! I'm Jill Bergman. I'd like to share a few of my favorite things so you have an idea my inspirations.

I love mountains, flowers, sunshine, stars, trees, rivers, and going on walks.

I love my family, my friends, and my house. 

I love art, printmaking, books, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the Steamboat Springs library

I love the art of:

I'm a printmaker and artist who especially loves writing, books, and type. I'm always finding ways to combine these forms of expression. You can read some posts I wrote about my path to becoming an artist in the My Creative Life links to the left or here: music, art, books, and motherhood

My usual way of working is by carving a single color linocut and then painting it with watercolor. A few months ago I finished a daily sketchbook project called 100 Trees. One of my goals for that project was to combine printmaking with other media and develop my own mixed media style. You can see the cards I made that grew out of that work here.

For many years I've wanted to illustrate children's picture books. I've created many picture book dummies and learned an incredible amount about illustrating, writing, children, and the publishing world. I'm part way through redrawing one of those dummies, Our Home. I got stalled out working on it because lots of commissions and opportunities came my way all at once. But I'll be back to finishing it very soon!

These are my goals:
To become a published picture book author and illustrator.
To have a greeting card line in stores nationally.

Beyond that, I would also love to do more:
Commissions, posters, t-shirts, and teaching.

These days I'm feeling pretty confident. Because I'm a self-taught artist and didn't start until my 20's, I think I had to put in some years working on my skills just like someone else would have done in school. For a long time my ideas and creativity outpaced my drawing skills and that was frustrating. I'm very good at carving linocut blocks, but a final print is only as good as the basic drawing. Now I think all of the different parts that make good art are coming together in me at the same time: ideas, design sense, drawing, technical skill, texture, pattern, color, storytelling, and fun! Because for me the most important ingredient is fun.

Thanks for reading about me! If you decide to "reintroduce" yourself please share the link to your story or just share your goals in the comments below!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Woodland Animals

 I've been working on a series of animals for a child's room. They are so much fun to make! There will be 8 total and I've made 5 so far. Each one will also be painted with watercolor. I don't want to show them completely yet, but here are some sneak peeks!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Earth Day Giveaway

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22! A few years ago I made this edition of books celebrating the beauty of Earth. There are 12 original linocuts painted with watercolor. The covers are wooden boards and the whole book was lovingly made by hand.

I'd like to give this book, number 2/10 to one person on Earth Day! To be entered in the giveaway, please share in the comments here, or on my Facebook, or Instagram post and I will put everyone in a hat and draw the winner on Friday morning. I'd like to hear in your comment what you love especially about Earth or your favorite place on Earth. Or I'd love to see your artwork or photography about the beauty of Earth. I don't think you can post images in the comments here, so you could share those on Facebook or Instagram.

I look forward to seeing what you all share!!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Chasing an Idea

The Peppermint Tree was one of my favorites from the 100 Trees project. Partly it's the shocking red contrasting with green and white. I got to a point about 2/3 of the way through the project that if I had extra ink or paint out I would just use it up as a background for the next painting. That's how this one got such a rich red background. I loved doing that because it would send me in an unexpected direction the next day when thinking of an image- I wasn't starting with a blank page, I was starting with a color. The color would sometimes lead me in a predictable direction (like adding stars to a dark page) but sometimes free association would take me somewhere fun and different! This red made me think of peppermint candies and the added green made it look extra Christmassy.

So, no surprise that I wanted to turn it into a Christmas card. But I wanted to use a traditional pine tree instead of a leafy green tree. 

I loved the final Christmas card, but I missed the round green tree with spiky leaves. So I used it and a similar color scheme to do a birthday card. Both of the 2 final cards are much cleaner and tidier that the original Peppermint tree and I kind of miss that messy rich color. But I'm happy with the final versions and it's fun to see all of them together.

Developing an idea takes lots of tries usually. Most often the trial and error happens in the sketch stage. But sometimes you make it all the way to a finished image and realize you have to redo it because you know how to make it better. One of the big things I learned from doing the daily sketchbook project is that it's really fun to let instinct and inspiration lead you without editing yourself too much. And then you can redo the image later if it has qualities that you like. It's more like a writing process than my usual art-making process. When writing, I have to just get it on the page. Don't edit, don't make it perfect. Chase the idea around and think it through with pencil moving on the paper. THEN in the next drafts I edit. 

I think an important part of working this way is sharing the sketchbook art publicly. That forced me to actually finish the image instead of taking it part way in my sketchbook and then abandoning it to start the final art. I still had fun and learned unexpected things about each piece I did all the way until the very end. Some of the tree images I made wound up containing so many seeds of ideas that they are sprouting more than one finished piece. 

The snow is melting around us here in Colorado, the grass and flower shoots and coming up and the trees are starting to bud. It's my favorite time of year! May spring bring you lots of beautiful ideas!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Merry Christmas (in March)

I'm still going through my 100 Trees sketchbook and turning some of the images into greeting cards. I always hate trying to get into a holiday frame of mind in the wrong season, but that's how it goes with card images. And when I made this painting last December, I really liked it and knew I wanted to turn it into a card. So here it is- Happy Holidays!

Thursday, March 24, 2016


My friend is going to have a baby soon and has requested a series of woodland animals. Here are my drawings. I'll be finishing them as linocuts painted with watercolor. I'm having a great time with these already!

Friday, March 18, 2016

New Tree Cards

I've really only just started going back through the 100 Trees sketchbook and reworking some of the images as cards. There are so many ideas in there, I'm having a great time! Here are two that got started because I had some extra black ink left on my palette. Even though they are dark, I hope they brighten your  day!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

50 Precious Words Writing Contest

Author Vivian Kirkfield has created a fun writing challenge, 50 Precious Words. Can you create a story or poem for children in 50 words or less? It's hard! 50 is so short! But I had to try. I started with a story I'd written that was already short at 150 words and completely rewrote it to get it down to a slim 50. I hope it still has a little charm and makes sense!

Remodeling the Castle

The new dishwasher squeezed into the kitchen. 
We got the box. 
Mae and I magicked it into a castle. 
We added rooms, 
and towers. 
We grew gardens, 
and oceans.
We sailed to the edge of the world,
and into the stars. 

Then the truck brought our new REFRIGERATOR.

And just for smiles, below is a photo of my daughter from a couple of weeks ago working on the interior decoration of her own cardboard castle. We are busy growing the forests and the oceans right now. :)

And below is me with my mom in the olden days!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

100 Trees!

Yesterday I finished the 100 Trees daily project. Wow, what a lot of fun I had with these! You can see all of them on my website. Here are the last 50:

A few of them were actually full spreads including the giant redwood, General Sherman who was Number 100. Here are those for the fun of it:

I learned so much from doing this project- I was able to zero in on my favorite colors and styles, to trust in my skills, to loosen up, not worry about making it perfect, and I generated so many different ideas that I want to explore further! If anyone is considering doing a daily project, I definitely recommend it!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Illustration Friday: Childhood

I haven't done Illustration Friday in a while, but when I saw the topic this week I wanted to share this recent drawing from my sketchbook. It's my daughter sitting in an imaginary tree. Childhood isn't all magical, but parts of it definitely are!

Saturday, February 27, 2016


I made a few new pieces quickly and out of curiosity this week. I'm getting better at making art on a whim and following my instincts. In the past I've mostly worked in a long, drawn-out process, like an entire book with years of critiques and rewrites behind it. Also, my usual medium is linocut and they take time. I've started feeling really good about this new combination of mixed-media techniques I'm using that can happen much faster than a linocut.

There was really no good reason to make these three little illustrated poems. I'm not trying to get them published, but I think I'm trying to get more comfortable sharing my writing even if it isn't perfect. So I made these and posted them on Facebook and Instagram. All of these were written in the past but rewritten this week, and the art is new. I hope you like them!