Cuckoo Clock Progression

I've been talking a lot about my art process lately and I hope you will continue to humor me. This year, I've vowed to push myself outside of my comfort zone. When I first made that promise to myself, I thought it would be easy. I don't know why-I guess I just thought I would buckle down and go to it. I wasn't expecting to feel huge surges of inadequacy. I wasn't expecting to feel lost and frustrated. But that's really what growth is all about isn't it? Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, learning new things, and having the grit to weather through the upheavals change will bring. It's been a hard month as I worked outside my comfort zone in the Make Art That Sells Assignment Boot Camp but I've learned more about myself and making art in this one month than I have in a long time.We were assigned to do a piece of cuckoo clock art that would be suitable for licensing on a cell phone cover. Here's the creative progression of my assignment.

I started out staying in my comfort zone of crafting. I created a cuckoo clock, but it was a craft project, not an illustration.

Cuckoo Clock

Then I drew some cuckoo clocks.

Cuckoo Clock Drawings

Then I tried to put them on cell phone mock-ups in Photoshop. Because of my limited skills in Photoshop, I could only load them with white backgrounds. That's around when the crying started. It looked too plain. I didn't want to learn Photoshop. I also feel into the trap of comparing myself to all my fellow students' works and things went downhill from there.

Cuckcoo Clock Illustration by Laura Bray

After I got sick of myself and my sniffling, I buckled down and figured out how to cut-out my icon and put the clock on a background. But it wasn't a clean cut and more crying ensued.

Cuckoo Clock Illustration by Laura Bray

So I printed out the cuckoo clock onto fabric and sewed up a little change purse. I felt a little better because I was back crafting and sewing and the smaller print made my Photoshop errors less glaring.

Cuckoo Clock Change Purse

I used the idea that smaller was better in this case, to mock-up a new cell phone cover. This is the one I loaded into the class gallery. It's far from where I wanted it to be, but I am proud that I stuck through the process and posted to the gallery. I have four months to go in the class and, judging from the growth process I went through in only this first month, I'm super excited (and a little scared) to see where I will end up.


I wanted to share this process with you today in the hopes that it will help you. If you are struggling today, hang in there. You can do it. It won't happen overnight, but you will get there. Think of how far you have already come.



4 Responses to Cuckoo Clock Progression

  1. Tammy Olson says:

    Hi Laura,

    I totally feel your pain.  I took MATS A and B and decided I really wanted to learn PS and Ai.  I'm catching on to Ai faster than PS.  With the cuckoo assignment, my first attempt was in Ai and looked so generic so than I went to my comfort zone which was collage.  I tried to manipulate it in both programs and I was very unhappy with the results.  I got a lot of those areas too where it isn't selected cleanly and white shows up.   My next attempt was in PS.  A week ago I could barely tell you what a layer was in PS let alone adding color, so I put lots of hours in this last week.  It turned out okay but not how I wanted.  It's frustrating because I know how I want it to look but I don't know how to do it.  It's all pretty overwhelming.  There is so much to know!   I keep plugging along though.  I'm using this down week to watch more tutorials!  I love your design, so sweet!  We will figure it out!


    • Laura Bray says:

      Thanks for commenting Tammy. I’m sure it’s just a matter of practice! We just have to remember that everyone started at where we are now and look at what they can do. WOW! Popped over to your blog and love your work. Hang in there!

  2. vickie says:


    Your design is lovely! I'm also in MATS Bootcamp. I am amazed at the talent, and spent last night looking through all the submissions. No two are alike with so many unique ideas and intrepretations. I am so thankful I signed up for the class and can't wait for the next assignment.

    My PS skills are all self-taught and learning through trial and error, so I totally understand. Learning how to create layers really opened up PS for me, and has saved me some troubles along the way. The pen tool is a wonderful tool.  Painting icons and laying them in PS has also helped, because trying to extract details even with the pen tool can be challenging….hope that all makes sense.

    My focus for the class is to push myself and this assignment did that. CuckCoo Clocks were never on my radar, but they are now. So, we can do this! Can't wait to see where your designs lead you, and all the new art you will create. 



  3. Joy says:

    Hi Laura!

    I found your post via Twitter and am so glad I did!  I think that your cuckoo clocks are wonderful!  I understand the frustration of working on a project and then finding out you need to learn something that is seemingly unrelated just to progress.  It is so good for us to step outside our comfort zones and learn new things but it sure can be a growing PAIN sometimes!  I think people from every creative area can indentify and appreciate this post. 🙂  Thanks for writing it!

    Happy Crafting,


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