Surface Patterns

An old love became a new passion during the pandemic. I have always been delighted by patterns, and often find myself creating them when I doodle. Learning how to create repeating patterns in Adobe Illustrator, helped me grow as a designer, by shifting my eye and preception from pixels to vectors and having to break everything down to line and shape. Not my comfort zone. In the early 90’s I took a class on surface pattern design, and the medium of choice was gouache, whereas now, we have such magnificent technology that makes a designer’s life so much easier! 

In May of 2020 I enrolled in Anne Lafollette’s Surface Pattern Design Academy. In this course I learned about motifs, collections, and how to use technology to create repeating patterns. Here’s a taste of my process below.

This first image is a doodle from a notebook I found from the mid 90’s. I thought it was charming and had potential. Next, the drawing needed to be cleaned up  and motifs need to be isolated. After that, the drawing is taken into Adobe Illustrator and traced, colored and the repeating motif is created on a tile of color, following a set of very specific rules. After a design is created, different color ways can be created with the click of a button!

Surface Pattern Collections

Forest Floor

The process around creating this pattern started with many experiments with photography and drawing.

Mountain Sedums

As I strolled through the forest behind my house last spring, I was delighted to find these charming sedums budding and blooming in all their vivid, almost tropical splendor!


I picked a single bloom and photographed it in front of my white car in the shade, then the fun began. I brought the image into Photoshop and worked with shapes, lines and colors in a more textural and layered way.

Winter Abstracts

I transformed images of dried weeds into cool, mod shapes and colors.