Behind the Book: Patterns, Patterns Everywhere

Being an adopted female of Latin and Indigenous descent, I grew up in a family that looked quite different from me. This difference sparked a constant search for understanding. I was always observing, noticing what was different and what was the same. As a child, I remember noticing how cracks in tile created recognizable shapes. I loved to draw and write from observation, and I honed this ability to recognize patterns in the world around me. 

This skill was useful in everyday life for things like finding the answer in math problems, predicting how a story might end, repeating positive results in sports play, designing wallpaper, or even learning a new language to code a website. 

When I began my textile company, Half Full, there were things I saw over and over again in the landscape around me. I would often see foxes on the road or scampering down a trail in the evening. I recognized the same trees scattered along the horizon and how the fallen leaves made unique patterns. After creating a few textile patterns, I wrote this very rough draft of a poem to capture the essence of what I was feeling. I didn’t know it yet, but this was the first draft of Patterns, Patterns Everywhere. Patterns are truly everywhere and an essential part of life. Noticing when things begin, end, and then start anew helps us understand that life is cyclical and often repeats. Observing how patterns influence art, math, science, and daily routine helps us better cope when hard things occur. This recognition allows us to be conscious and aware of possibilities. Visual patterns are the simplest patterns to understand and pick out in our surroundings. For example, the grains of sand on the beach form a textural pattern, as do the waves crashing on the shore. All of the illustrations in the book are influenced by our surroundings, specifically what I was experiencing at the time. 

The land that inspired my first textile pattern was devastated by a horrible fire in 2017. As the land started to recover, I remember hearing the sounds of birds for the first time in a while. I recorded that first encounter with repetitive sound and set forth to follow through on the dream of becoming a published author and illustrator. The Collective Book Studio was the perfect partner for this venture. 


Creating the Book and Drawing from Experience.

I have a degree in illustration and also education in poetry writing, however, there is a process to learn in making a children's book which involves many linear steps. First, editing the story and breaking it into pages. This part occurred early on and happened fairly quickly for me, though I had to let go of one line that felt a little too abstract for my target age range. I had an amazing editor, who was able to push this part to a finish without much back and forth. 

Next the art, which took a bit more time for me. Thumbnails came first, then drawings, then full-size watercolors. The illustrations, created in a traditional water-based medium, were larger than the actual final size of the book and  took a bit more time than the timeline allowed. For inspiration I drew from the nature around me. In fact, the butterfly on the cover landed on a tree in front of me when I was working on that illustration. I took a photo of that butterfly and thought it would be nice to use it to represent the journey of discovery. I envisioned a path-like form with the central focus being something anyone could relate to; a butterfly. The rest of the book was really driven by the text. The lines were quite descriptive so I already had an idea of what would be in the illustrations. Some of it required a bit of research. I wanted the illustrations and pieces in them to have some relationship to each other. For example, all the animals in the jungle scene should be from the same region of the world. 

I love the world and all it provides. If you pay attention and look close enough or long enough, you will see beautiful patterns in everything around you. 

Meet the Author

Kellie Menendez is an award-winning artist, designer and creative writer. Her decor studio, Half Full, produces patterns for the home inspired by wildlife and wild places. Kellie's work has been featured in California Home + Design, Business of Home, Domino and Aldea Home — and her poems published in an anthology for CCSF’s Poetry for the People. Kellie loves looking for patterns in San Francisco with her husband, son, and dog, Raya.