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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

An Artful Year: Getting Serious with the Series


typographic art by Sean Ziebarth (@MrZiebarth)

I few blog posts back I took inventory of my various “series” on the Web – and even challenged others to think in “series” when they create. It’s been a few months and it seems I have thought of a few more, so here is the full annotated list. Most of the titles are hyperlinked to the Pinterest board where I’ve tried to organize and collect, but I have undoubtedly missed a few. You can also search my Instagram  (all are posted there but it’s tedious to scroll through) or even Twitter, with the hashtag.

  1. you can purchase some of my art in various forms from my shop at Society 6

note: these are in no particular order, other than the themes mentioned

PROJECTS (these were more developed projects with a purpose, or something I did on a consistent basis)

#3ofme: I talk about this more in depth in the previous post, but basically this is my attempt to gain wisdom from my friends near and far. I ask people a series of questions about their life experience and what they learned or what they value…then I sketch the “3 of me”. Perhaps some day it will become a little book.





#englishbeat: This began as me hearing an English Beat song I hadn’t heard in a long time and wanting to visualize it. I did several, and the Beat actually liked them 🙂 Plan to do more.


#Tweatles: A friend inspired me to do this project, so I set up a Twitter account ( ) and set about doing a Tweatle a day, which then became 1 per week and I really need to start it again…it’s visualizing the song in a minimalist way.


#morethanbody: I discussed the project in this previous post – it’s my attempt to do something for Breast Cancer Awareness month (since I did go through it myself). I wanted to stress the other things women should be known for other than their breasts – so I chose well known and well endowed actresses who have been influential in other areas as well. (the logo I made is like the “more than” sign in math plus a nipple)


#visualverse (volley) : Also mentioned in the previous post and in this post. I even went so far as to animate some (explained here). My friend Elizabeth Olson sends me a little poem via Twitter on Sundays and I sketch the first thing that comes to my mind.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 3.25.19 PM

#100daysofhashtaggerie: I explained this in the link, but this was for the Great Discontent’s “100 days” challenge. My friend Dan Ryder and I decided to do a little Twitter volley. He would shoot me a whimsical hashtag and I would respond with a visualization. We reversed it and I sent him a sketch for him to re-contextualize with a tag. We didn’t make it to 100 but it was fun.


#100daysofbijoux (must search my Instagram): My personal project for the Great Discontent’s challenge (although I did not make it to 100 but could have)…I decided to archive my costume jewelry and tell the story behind each piece. If you find it on my Instagram they are pretty much one after another.


#friday5: I explain more in the link and in the previous post, but this was a good idea for self-reflection and visual thinking while it lasted. The concept is to think of 5 takeaways from your week- real insights – and visualize them metaphorically.


#lessandmore: This became an interesting project because while it started out personal it grew to be collaborative (check out the Storify), and while it began as purely visual it ended up being an animated film with voiceover. It also morphed in style. At first, the idea was to fill in the blanks, but later it became more about adjusting the letters. Some tell me they’ve used the idea at workshops and conferences. (View Dan Ryder’s vine with students here)  It’s a remix of sorts- you add or take away letters to create a new, more positive thing (something you want more of). Alternatively, you could do the first version where you write “more____, less_____”.


#novembrrrr: me wanting to be cold and getting ready for the Holidays. That is all. (actually, I did this with the goal in mind of making enough images for a little animated winter gif)


#threethirtysketchquote: I’ve been doing this as long as I’ve been sketching with Paper 53…it’s a great exercise if you can keep it up everyday – especially at the time of day you feel most low. I learn a lot of quotes this way and it makes me want to read more from the author.



#oneword: First introduced in this post, this is my grand attempt at self-reflection, and metaphorical thinking. I practice metaphorical typography while synthesizing my day into one word. It’s an interesting way to do a diary and looking back sparks memories.


#literalalphabet: I just started this at the time of this writing…after I heard about David Bowie’s death, I don’t know why but a vision of an “E” with a bow on it came to mind. I drew it, and then started thinking of other plays on words with the names of the letters in the alphabet. Could be a fun little book.


#makeoutpoetry: I wrote about this crazy period of my life in this post…it was a great little project but became a bit habit-forming 🙂 I actually would love to base a keynote on it.


#twitterpoll (search my Twitter media, Instagram, or FB) As soon as Twitter came out with the poll feature I knew I had to play with the creative constraints (only 2 choices!). Dichotomies are a blast, and I ended up doing most of mine about pop songs from the eighties, though around Christmas I did an entire series of naughty/nice.




#VivaVirgil: also explained in more detail in the previous post, this is my weird dot-connecting between the Latin poet Virgil’s seemingly rebellious and au courant sayings and an image of the ultimate iconic Rebel- James Dean.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 2.05.58 PM

#faithfulltofashion: Homage to style muse, singer, and sixties It Girl Marianne Faithfull – this was an attempt to play with Paper 53’s iPhone app – in particular the feature that allows one to draw over photos. I appropriated black and white shots of Marianne and accentuated elements of her clothing with my signature hot pink.


#emojenie: I wanted to see if I could import an emoji character as an image and draw around it. I came up with the name – a portmanteau of “emoji” and “Genie” first, and just had to try a few.


#salvadordollies: explained in more detail in the previous post, this started as a “fooling around with the new app” thing and, after I pinned down an aesthetic and named it #salvadordollies (after the surrealist artist Salvador Dali of course), it seemed to take off. It’s about remixing old selfies in a sort of grotesque way.


#lovelist: I found this vintage cartoon and decided to make an entire series about it, with the boy consistently professing his love and the girl stating some new, completely impossible to attain attribute. It’s really a parody of dating as it brings to light our unrealistic expectations of others.


#reposed: One of my favourites! I developed a certain style as I went (i.e. the cloud shaped bubbles for typography). These are vintage fashion shoots that scream corniness. I re-contextualize with modern pop references, often from hip-hop lyrics or popular films.


#funfriedrich: It was Friedrich Nietzsche’s birthday boy and in reading his quotes they seemed to be more “fun” than I remember. I thought why not liven up his portrait a bit with some pink and affix the carefully chosen quotes – certainly puts this philosopher in a different perspective.


#lovecat: The Cure is one of my favourite bands and “LoveCats” is my all time favourite song by the group. I drew a vintage cat and chose Cure lyrics (which are so poetic BTW) that fit the disposition of cats. I don’t know, it just works.


#MEOWrrissey: I bolted out of bed one day thinking of the play on words with “Morrissey” of The Smiths and “Meow” (of a cat). I drew a little feline Morrissey look-alike, added carefully curated lyrics  and the rest is history.


#renaissanta: I used to do a lot with Renaissance art when I taught World History, and I have always been fascinated by the use of reds – especially the sheer number of paintings where the subject wears red caps a la Santa Claus (but sans fluffball). Using Paper 53’s drawing-over-photo tool, I remixed old paintings and they gleefully became #renaissanta.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 2.18.31 PM

#bowroque: One of my favourite remixes of the year because I adore Caravaggio’s art. Going with the Portlandia “put a bird on it” vibe, I decided to “put a bow on it” (anyone who knows me knows this girl loves her bows). His subjects looks so natural with them and of course it fits perfectly with Baroque (Bow-roque).



#cryinggirl  Not sure why I can’t find all of them in one place but they are worth a mention. I really liked the way I discovered how to draw exaggerated teardrops so I went for it.


#cuteboys: one of the series I did only whilst dining alone in San Francisco. It’s cheeky and self-indulgent but a bit true.


#girlswithproblems : (new as of this post) Based on what people have criticized me for (in love with love, head in clouds, chasing butterflies, etc….but I figured it could be generic).


#allinmyhead: (new as of this post) I spotted a drawing of a girl with black hair and white typography all throughout  her hair and wanted to do the same…so I did …then had to make some blondes as well.


#swiperight: The name is a cheeky reference to Tinder culture. The aesthetic is that of vintage (midcentury) fashion portraiture. I wanted to see if I could do it digitally, and with the magic of several brushes in Paper 53, managed to do so. I think they’d look good on plates.


#boudoirebits: My experiment with red and black as opposed to my usual pink, plus an homage to Weimar aesthetics and Saul Bass style…basically disjointed bodies with no heads in lacy lingerie


#blueseries : Ok I was blue at the time. But this was my first foray into using other brushes in Paper 53 (like water colour), and layering colours. The heads seem to be floating in the black and there are wrinkles of pain.


#pinkladies: one of my all time favourite series and it’s still going! I decided to experiment with Sharpie and pastel chalk (the impetus being I bought some cheap chalk) on discarded grocery bags (we now have paper since plastic has been banned). It’s an early ’60s ingenue vibe. Many have told me they want to purchase prints so yay! I’ve also animated them here.


#ABCanimals: I don’t even remember how this started but I did all 26 animals in a day, I think. The goal was to keep to minimalist shapes and a restricted colour palette, all incorporating pink polka dots in some way. My daughter and I will name them and create rhymes for a book.


#birthdaysketchquote (search this Twitter link or my Instagram): One of the first projects I ever started…If I find out some  famous artist or author in particular is having a birthday I find one or more quotes and sketch them (sometimes doing a portrait of the quote’s author).


#12daysofchristmas: Well, sadly I made it only till 7 swans a swimming but who know’s I might do the rest before next Christmas.


#becauseSF: This is really a joke, but it keeps me occupied when dining alone in San Francisco. I overhear weird things like “I used to be an activist designer”, or take note of special things (“artisnal Edison lights!”) and sketch them. It humours me.


#badmatryoshka: I love Russian nesting dolls! They are such the epitome of sweet I thought what if I made them do naughty things like smoke and pop pills (dolls haha)? So I made three – a smoker, a drinker, and a pill-popper. Each has a related motif hidden in her painted flowers.


#minimalistmonsters: I loved this project because it ended up becoming an animated film!. I was getting in the Halloween spirit, no pun intended, and made these cuties.


#poproyalty: I used some of these in my #twistedpairs blog posts but in general I tag any minimalist portrait of someone famous with this tag. They are usually black and pink but sometimes black and white.


#orangetheworld: This is a UN invented tag to promote awareness of violence against women. I am not a fan of orange per se, but I decided to draw portraits of generic women from all continents


#starwarsminimalist (aka #pinkwars): I have to call it “Pink Wars” on my Society 6 site, but these are extreme minimalist portraits of well known Star Wars characters done in pink, white, grey, and black. The light saber provides a frame of sorts and one only sees half the face.


#melandollies: this is new as of this writing. I did the #allinmyhead series (above) and decided to create non-typography versions of them as well. Since they are all close-eyed/ closed-lipped, they became my Melancholy Dollies or #MelanDollies.


#rothko (and other #abstract) – this can be found by looking through this Pinterest Board. On the painter Rothko’s birthday I decided to try some of my own Rothko inspired works using the watercolur brush in Paper 53. It was very therapeutic. I also used the smart shapes tool and other brushes to create quick abstract pieces and experiment with colour.


#pain– also found looking through the “My Art” Pinterest board (they are the red and black abstracts) an offshoot of some of the abstracts, these red and black digital paintings show what sort of pain I am in. I tried to think metaphorically about intensity, heat, location, and type (sharp, throbbing, dull, achey, etc.). I actually think this technique could be used in hospitals.


Christmas #wishments; like ornaments, but wishes


StopMotion Films

I wrote a bit about my process of turning my sketches into stopmotion as well as animated films in this post.

Here is a sampling of what I’ve done. The Twisted Pairs series was in response to a blog challenge put out by Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth). The Learning in 20 two part series was in response to a challenge by @edmundmonk of the Learning and Performance Institute in the UK.  My “10 Stories of True Connectedness” was in response to a challenge by Alan Levine (@cogdog), who, like me, always has some project going on.  The #getsmART Picasso video is the first in what I mean to be a series riffing off the keynote I did at Alan November’s Building Learning Communities 2015. There are two #visualverse volley animations I created in response to @eolsonteacher. There are two experiments with the Motion Portrait app and finally, the start of my “Thinkerings” series through which I hope to visualize some of my blog posts.

10 True Stories of Openness/ Connectedness (for @cogdog)

Autumn Leaves Sketchquote

Snow Meditation

Learning in 20 (for @yourlpi)

Learning in 20 Part II

Twisted Pair Blog Challenge: Madonna and McLuhan

Twisted Pair Blog Challenge: The Beatles and Alfred Hitchcock

Twisted Pairs Blog Challenge: Billie Holiday and Leonardo da Vinci

#getsmART: Lessons from the Artist, Picasso Edition

Ghost Town animation

In Flanders Fields animation

Just Words: Visual Verse Volley animation

With You We Are: Visual Verse Volley

Thinkerings Episode 1: Knowledge as Connection

Thinkerings Episode 2: Digital Vikings

Nico Here She Comes Motion Portrait

#PinkLadies Motion Portrait

#art #series #cryinggirl #rothko #bowroque #visualverse #salvadordollies #oneword #birthdaysketchquote #threethirtysketchquote #edmundmonk #wordplay #twitterpoll #lessandmore #pain #sketchnotes #reposed #ElizabethOlson #100daysofbijoux #funfriedrich #vivavirgil #renaissanta #faithfulltofashion #becausesf #poproyalty #novembrrrr #starwars #SteveWheeler #wishments #animation #lovecat #12daysofchristmas #swiperight #seanziebarth #3ofme #melandollies #literalalphabet #boudoirebits #blueseries #alanlevine #allinmyhead #makeoutpoetry #badmatryoshka #ABCanimals #lovelist #100daysofhashtaggerie #girlswithproblems #pinkladies #englishbeat #emojenie #orangetheworld #tweatles #meowrrissey #friday5 #cuteboys #amyburvall #morethanbody #minimalistmonsters #remix

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