Freebie Textures

This summer, I’m taking Digital Painting with a Wacom Tablet through MCAD’s Continuing Education program with Lindsay Nohl. For one of our homework assignments we were asked to find some textures to add to our digital graphics in class. I took my camera around the house, and really had a great time hunting for textures. When I was done, I thought it would be great to provide them online as well.

Below are the thumbnails and web-quality images, but you can also download them at full-resolution at the bottom of the page. They are not perfect!

Feel free to use them commercially or for your own art. These are not for resale or for use in commercial templates. Do not republish or distribute on the web unless you provide a back link and credit to Shalanah Dawson.

DOWNLOAD Texture Photographs

Two Great Sites on Learning Responsive Design

I was wandering the web looking for some inspiration for my next web design project, and I was amazed at how some sites responded well – and like magic – to any window size I made with my browser. I first noticed it on Smashing Magazine’s site (give it a try) and then very noticeably on CSS-Tricks (really quite well thought out). This is, of course, in reaction to our many tablets, large flat screens and tiny mobile phones. So I dedicated about 30 minutes a day for a couple weeks to learn about it.

I mostly relied on Fluid Grids by Ethan Marcotte and How to get started with Responsive Web Design by Ryan Boudreaux. For Ryan Boudreaux’s article, make sure you follow it all the way with the media queries and the images portion! I enjoyed both of these because they are step-by-step, you can even follow along and make your own test site. Happy coding!

Illustration Class Update Part 2

For this assignment, we were asked to create a portrait illustration of a 1960’s person and an object that goes with the person in some way. I chose Rachel Carson. She was a biologist who wrote about DDT and its affect on wildlife in her book “Silent Spring”. My first attempt combined both the object and a portrait of her (left) and in my second attempt (right two) I created little “icons” that could work in a website or as a favicon. All were created using Illustrator.

Summer Learning

It is funny because as a teacher or a student, we all look forward those last couple weeks of school to summer vacation. We think days at the beach and hours of reading or computer games, but to me the best summers are where I get to take a couple classes myself! Currently, I am taking one class via and two MCAD Continuing Education classes.

I just stumbled upon Learnable when I was searching for coding classes in web development. Most of the classes run upwards of $600 which is a bit spendy. But through Learnable, I can take classes for $15 a month. I’m taking PHP & MySQL Web Development for Beginners currently but will definitely take HTML5 before the summer is out too.

At MCAD, I’m taking Intro to Screen Printing, which I’ve actually taken before but would like some more studio time and Intro to Illustration. I have enjoyed every class I’ve taken through MCAD. I will definitely post some of my work by the end of the summer 🙂 .

-Shalanah Dawson

Graphic Design Donation to PADS. – Helping Kenyan Girls Go to School

Since it is summer and class is out, I’ve been itching to do some graphic design. A good college friend of mine, Megan Greulich, contacted me about helping her set up a domain name and WordPress site for a fundraising project she had in mind. Since all the proceeds of her project go straight to the cause, and she was putting her own money into the website, I thought it was the perfect time to donate some design.

Charity Kroeker, Megan’s co-worker and founder of the idea, came across AFRIpads after visiting a town in Kenya. She noticed that girls were not attending school, or even in some cases dropping out, simply because they did not have adequate feminine products. In order to make a direct difference in the town she visited, she started PADS. – Perfect Attendance Dignity Squad – to raise money for the 1,315 female students to have the feminine products they need for a whole year. All the raised donations will go straight to the town through AFRIpads.

Under a very tight deadline, I worked on three posters, cleaned up the logo and put together the graphics for the WordPress site.

Take a look! And donate! It only takes $6.50 to help 1 Kenyan girl for a full year!

Have a good summer!
-Shalanah Dawson

Midway Driving School New Website – More to come :)

Midway Driving School - Nervous Drivers ESL Behind-the-Wheel Minnesota Website

Tony Ryan and I have been working on a new website for Midway Driving School. Could not meet a nicer man — or someone with a better left-side broomball shot! His company specializes in helping nervous adult drivers or ESL (English as a Second Language) students with adult behind the wheel driving hours in the Twin Cities (Saint Paul and Minneapolis), Rochester and Duluth Minnesota. The site was redesigned with WordPress to make it easier as time goes on to create new looks without losing content. Take a look! We’ll be adding more content as the summer progresses.

-Shalanah Dawson

Daniel Taylor: A Writer, Speaker and Traveler — New Website!

Hooray! Daniel Taylor’s website, a mix of his multifaceted interests, is up and running! He is a writer, speaker and traveler. I love reading his blog and skimming through the amazing photographs from his trips as a Professor at Bethel University and independently as a travel guide. There is a whole lot more, check it out!

-Shalanah Dawson

New Look – New Layout – Bonus Content

Welcome! If you are a returning visitor, the site does look different! I’m hoping that the new layout is also easier to use.

Some Changes

  • Student Galleries – These may be found under “HS Teaching Site” and underneath the given course.
  • Old Work – I have removed some ultra old work but kept some goodies under “Past Work”.
  • Recent Work – This is brand new work that I am in the process of continuing. Check back to see my progress.
  • Blog – Actually only cosmetically changed! All the old posts are here. If there are any past dead links please let me know! I’m working hard to make sure all links go to their new homes.

Can’t Find Something? Let me know! Also, let me know how you like the new look!

Thanks for visiting!
Shalanah Backus

Kirk Freeman Pottery Website Launch

Picture 7

Very excited to announce the website launch of . Kirk Freeman is a potter and was my ceramics professor (a really excellent and funny one too) at Bethel University. Definitely take a look at his work – it’s stunning.

The design was based off of a free WordPress theme where I altered the CSS and PHP to fit Kirk’s website goals. CMS is the way to go.

– Shalanah Backus

Working on it…

I started a Commercial Art site for my high school class, but now I have expanded. It now includes all classes I teach. See it here! (

It is going to take a while, but I am slowly going to upload galleries onto the Waconia Site of student work and make a new – with only my artwork and a link to my teaching site. Goal for summer 2011. But you can see it’s all a work in progress.

-Shalanah Backus