Sunday, 23 November 2014

It's all in the detail

I just want to start by saying thank you for your lovely comments. Normally I try to reply to them all, either on my blog or by email, but this week has run away with me a bit and I haven't had chance. I do really appreciate each and every one though, so thank you!

This weekend has been one of those lovely quiet ones. We had no plans so I've had lots of time to get on with my Thames map commission.

It finally feels like I'm getting somewhere, but before I show you the progress, I wanted to share this doodle which I started ages ago for an art swap with portrait artist Debbie from Portraits of Treasured Memories. Debbie's going to give it to her daughter, Kyrie, for Christmas.

I think it's finished, but that's the trouble with these doodles, it's really hard to know when to stop!

The little characters I've picked out in colour are Debbie's daughter's favourite toys.

The fairy isn't one of Kyrie's toys, but I felt it needed a splash of colour in the bottom left corner to balance it out.

I hope she likes it!

Now on to the serious business of the Thames map. This week I finished sketching out the second 'half' as it is so long I've had to do it in two separate. Yesterday and today I've been outlining the half which has already been checked by the client.

I was so nervous to start in pen at first - what if I went wrong? Once I got in the flow of it though, I enjoyed seeing it grow.

I'm not sure how many hours it took me in total over the two days, but I was very relieved to have finished this half without making a mistake (touch wood...)!

Here's a few little close ups, on the left is the Dorchester area, on the right is Pangbourne at the bottom, leading into Reading at the top. Mapledurham House is on the left hand side of the river.

I think when I've finished this project I'm going to have a pretty good knowledge of the Thames!

That's it for today, I also want to say thank you to all those who have voted for my blog in the UK Blogger Awards. If you haven't, it would really make my day if you could pop across to my page and vote - if you want to of course! Voting closes on Wednesday 3 December.

I'm sharing this post on the following blogs:  Handmade Harbour and Sunday Sketches (Blue Chair Diary Illustrations).

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Miniature Johnny Depp

Not much to report again this week. I've been making progress on my map of the Thames but as it's just a pencil sketch at the moment, it's hard to take good photos.

I also did this tiny watercolour painting of Johnny Depp. I hear he was a bit inebriated at the Hollywood Film Awards on Friday night!

Johnny Depp Watercolour Painting

This portrait is the size of a two pence piece. I love working on a small scale and thought I'd put my new paintbrush and watercolours to the test! I was partly inspired by Lorraine Loot's wonderful 'Postcards for Ants'. If you haven't seen them yet, go and have a look, you'll be amazed!

That wrinkly pink sausage thing is my finger...if you were wondering. Which you probably weren't.

Here are a few photos of the map, hopefully I'll have more next week as it comes together!

Illustrated Map

Sorry about the dark pictures, these short, gloomy days aren't very good for photography!

Illustrated Map

I really can't wait to get started on outlining in pen, it seems I've been sketching for days!

Illustrated Map

Last week I mentioned that I've entered my blog for the UK Blogger Awards and would really love your vote! I don't expect to come close to winning, but it would be great if my little blog could be seen by a few more people as a result! If you could spare a minute, the link to vote is:

Thank you!

I'm sharing this post on the following blogs:  Handmade Harbour, Paint Party Friday and for the first time, Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Fragment, consider revising

I apologise in advance because this is going to be a short and potentially very boring post, as all I've been working on this week is the Thames map commission.

It's slow, but steady progress, and the most difficult project I've undertaken by a considerable amount!

You may be wondering about the title of this post. It's the pesky little phrase which shows when you've typed a sentence in Microsoft Word and it underlines it with a green squiggle but doesn't actually know what's wrong and leaves the ball in your court. Do you change the sentence or plough on? Generally I ignore it.

Anyway, what has that got to do with my week?

Well, I had been intending to complete this map all in one go and end up with a long, thin, beautiful representation of the Thames which could be framed for the wall once finished. Could I find a piece of watercolour paper big enough? No, of course not. I could either buy a 10 metre roll or revise my plan, and fragment the map. Which is what I've done - revised and fragmented.

It will now be painted in two sections which will be imperceptibly joined (I'm assured) using some digital wizardry.

This is what it looks like so far, and I warn you, these photos are less than exciting.

illustrated map

The piece in the foreground is the detailed draft I've been provided, which is very useful indeed.

illustrated map

That little red square with holes cut in it is a house stencil I made to make my life easier. Let me tell you, there are a lot of houses in Oxford!

illustrated map

This is a close up of the Oxford section. I'm looking forward to outlining it in pen as it's not very well defined at the moment, especially in photos.

The other thing which I've made a little more progress on this week is this doodle for the art swap which I'm doing with Debbie, a very talented portrait artist. You can see her Facebook page here.The doodle is for Debbie's daughter and contains some of her favourite toys. It still needs a bit of colour adding.

doodle art

That's it for today, I said it would be short! I'm off to relax and try not to dream of the Thames tonight.

Oh, at the end of a very boring post may not be the best time to ask you all to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards! I've entered in the Art and Culture category and I think all you need to do is go to my profile and register your vote (from Monday 10 November). Thank you very much!

I'm sharing today's post over at Handmade Harbour.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Mappy Halloween!

Nope, that's not a typo in the title! Halloween and the week before have been devoted to sketching out a rough draft of the illustrated map of the Thames which I've been commissioned to create.

I did have the night off last night though for a Halloween party with friends which involved eating of a lot of sweets, 'spider' pizzas and this ghostly cake!

halloween ghost cake

I made the little ghosts out of grapes draped in icing, but the following morning one had a hole in its head where the grape had 'leaked' and dissolved the icing. Luckily it just made it a little creepier!

halloween ghost cake

Anyway, back to the map which I've been working on all afternoon. This week has been all about deciding on the style of symbols to represent supermarkets, golf courses, shopping centres etc.

illustrated map

We've decided to go with illustrations for the shopping centres and anything that can be represented as a picture to limit the amount of symbols and make it more visually appealing.

illustrated map

I quite like this scroll but it's not really suitable for attractions such as theme parks, so I've come up with a slightly less historic looking sign instead. Below is a very geographically incorrect sample of a map with the symbols on, although a few ideas have changed since I did this.

illustrated map

I loved using my new Winsor & Newton watercolours and am so glad I chose the pans rather than tubes. They're lovely to paint with and the colour applies really smoothly.

Here are a few snippets from the scale draft of the map. Below is London, obviously I hope!

Illustrated map

And Legoland!

illustrated map

If you'd like to keep up to date with the progress of my map, pop over to my Facebook page where I'll be sharing (hopefully) regular updates!

I'm sharing today's post over at Handmade Harbour.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Mapping the Thames

This weekend has been an extremely busy one, not least because I've had confirmation of a really exciting commission!

I don't want to say too much about what it's for until I've made a bit more progress, but I've been asked to produce an illustrated map of the River Thames.

Now, I have ALWAYS wanted to draw maps. When I was at school I wanted to be a cartographer. The fact that maps can be both attractive and functional interests me and the detail really appeals to my love of intricacy.

So, when I got asked to submit a small sample for consideration, I jumped at the chance.

This is just an example of a tiny section of the map and it's going to be changed slightly, but you get the idea.

Thames illustrated map

I decided to use watercolours because I love the way they highlight the texture of the paper (and they're so fun to paint with)!

Thames illustrated map

I had a go at painting Windsor Castle, using some of the same techniques as I use in my doodles.

watercolour painting of Windsor Castle

I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed doing these paintings and I'm so excited about getting stuck into this project.

It's the first time in a while that my drawing board has actually looked like there's some drawing going on! Today I've been sketching out the curves of the river, which is definitely easier said than done.

drawing board

I've invested in some new Winsor & Newton watercolours as I used my old school set for these paintings and thought it was about time I get a 'grown up' set! I felt like a child in a sweet shop buying these!

winsor and newton watercolours

Back to the drawing board now!

If you'd like to follow this project as it progresses, please follow my blog using one of the buttons on the right and pop over to my Facebook page where I'll be posting regular updates.

I'm sharing this post on the following blogs:  Handmade Harbour and Paint Party Friday.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

My first work in print!

This week has been very exciting for various reasons and I've been working on a few lovely commissions. Unfortunately, I can't share any of it with you just yet, so I thought I'd show you this piece which has been featured in Doodle Arts Magazine.

It's a Filipino publication, but you can view a free digital version of their teaser magazine Doodle Arts Collection online.

My doodle and a short bio was featured in the 'Spotted' section on page 44 so go and have a nosy if you want to find out a little more about me!

This piece is meant to look like a landscape, with the sea at the bottom, land in the middle and sky at the top.

As always, I had great fun drawing it! I love the way the white windmill stands out so much against the brown.

Here's the drawing in progress!

...and here it is in the magazine.

See you next week peeps!

I'm sharing this post on the following blogs:  Handmade Harbour, Manon Popje's Illustrations, Nifty Thrifty Things, Be Different Act Normal and Tatertots and Jello.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Playing around with Crafty What Nots

We're back, relaxed and refreshed from a week in sunny Kos and not looking forward to work in the morning!

Luckily, I had something lovely to look forward to, as I received an exciting package from Jennysis Crafts. Jenny very kindly sent a number of us crafty bloggers a 'Crafty What Nots' box to review in anticipation of her fantastic new venture - a craft box subscription service.

The box actually arrived in the post the day before I went on holiday, but I knew I didn't have enough time to start, so, tempted though I was to have a sneaky peek, I left it waiting for me to come back!

I was really excited to open up the box as I had no idea what would be inside, the only clue I had was it's name 'Floral Pavilion'.

After carefully opening the tissue paper and removing the contents of various little personalised envelopes, this is what I found. For a slim box, there's a lot in there!

craft subscription box

I thought it would be fun to make a little stop-motion video of me opening the box.


Tucked in a little envelope were the instructions for making a paper handbag, so eager to get going, I made a start.

The instructions have photos too and are very simple to understand. First step - making a net to fold the handbag.

craft subscription box

It was easy to fold and assemble after scoring the lines.

craft subscription box

 Here's what it looked like before the flap and handle was added.

craft subscription box

I added a ribbon from my stash and decorated it with the cut out flowers and buttons provided.

craft subscription box

I'm pleased with the final result and it's now sitting pride of place in my craft corner!

After making the handbag, I had a little play with the other bits and bobs included in the box. I love the stamp!

craft subscription box

If you would like to get your mitts on a box similar to this, take a look at Jenny's blog post about Crafty What Nots and buy one for £12.50 plus P&P. She also offers a three or six month subscription for a discounted rate. I was very happy with the contents of my box; the packaging, extra little touches and obvious care which has gone into putting these packs together makes it well worth it!

I'll leave you with some of my holiday snaps!

Mark Warner Lakitira Resort Kos

I didn't notice the bee in this one until looking at the photo now!

Mark Warner Lakitira Resort Kos

The best part of the holiday was learning to sail - so much fun!

Mark Warner Lakitira Resort Kos

I'm sharing this post on the following blogs:  Handmade Harbour, Manon Popje's Illustrations and Be Different Act Normal.