Sunday, 14 December 2014

Eight hours non-stop...

That's how long I've been working on the Thames map today for Le Boat, and while I may have a headache, sleepy eyes and stiff neck, it's been a very satisfying day!


The whole painting process has taken a lot longer than I anticipated because of all the tiny details. Just painting the trees took about four and a half hours in total. I've painted them two different colours of green for a bit of variety.

I don't want to give away too much now because I'm so near finishing. I want to wait until I can show it all - there's nothing like a bit of suspense! Here are just a few little snippets to keep you guessing!

This little piggy and his friends at Odd's Farm Park are one of my favourite parts of the illustration.


I'm sorry about the blurry photos, I only realised when I got them onto the computer that they hadn't come out sharply.

I've spent the last couple of hours colouring in shadows with pencil. It's a tedious process but I really like the 3D effect it gives the painting.


These two attractions are Mercedes Benz World and the Brooklands Museum. In reality they don't have a car and concorde on top, but a little creative license never hurt anyone!


The Eden Walk shopping centre is probably one of the more 'boring' buildings on the map, but strangely it's one of my favourites! Something to do with the little windows and straight lines.


Finally, this is a section of the Thames just after Windsor. The little yellow boat is one of the Runnymede Hotel's 'HotTugs' which sounds like a lot of fun!


As well as painting the map, which is taking up every spare hour that I'm not at my 'real' job, I've had a really great week! A couple of girls from work and I went to volunteer at the Blue Cross in Tiverton where we painted the dogs' lounge and went out for a walk with a some of the dogs. These two are Penelope (top) and Brooke.


Our painting left much to be desired and needs another coat, but fortunately there's another group of volunteers going in this week to finish up!

Some of the animals there have had a really hard time of it, so it's lovely to know that they are now being well looked after and have chance to be rehomed and receive all the love they deserve. The staff and volunteers at the Blue Cross centre do an excellent job of assessing their behaviour, addressing any problems and generally making them healthy, happy animals. If you're looking for a dog or cat, then I'd really recommend you try them. 


As if that weren't enough excitement for one week, we had our work Christmas party on Friday which kicked off the festive celebrations in style!

Have a great week peeps! With a bit of luck I may have a finished map to show you next Sunday!

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

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Painting the rooftops

It's going to be an ultra speedy post this week as I'm right in the middle of painting trees on the Thames map!

Here's a little peek of how the colours are going on so far. The green was by far the hardest, because to get a smooth colour with watercolour you can't let it dry in the middle when you're painting a large section. I had to work steadily from one side of the map to the other, painting around each obstacle as I went.

illustrated map of the thames

It took a solid five hours to paint all the green! Tonight I've been working on the red rooftops of the houses.

Last week we were in Cornwall and in the evenings it was lovely to relax and doodle something which didn't require any thought. I created a mandala which I shared in my last post, and since then have drawn another one in biro.

mandala doodle

This time I used a compass to draw the rings and sketched out spokes underneath to give it a more symmetrical structure. You can just about see them in this photo.

mandala doodle

I like the biro as it's possible to achieve different tones, but I think I prefer solid ink lines, like the very first one I did below.

mandala doodle

I did this one completely freehand, starting in the middle and working outwards by eye, hence why the spacing is a little dodgy in places!

Finally I'll leave you with these photos from Newquay Zoo which we visited on Friday on our way back up from Cornwall.

These capybaras are actually a lot bigger than they look in the photo!

capybara Newquay Zoo

The zoo was really quiet and most of the animals were snuggled up inside - who can blame them really! These mongooses (mongeese?) were very inquisitive though and came out of their little hut to observe us watching them!

mongoose Newquay zoo

I remember the red panda's at Paignton Zoo being very elusive one time we went, but this little guy just sat around while I took his photo.

red panda Newquay Zoo

Last but not least, these were my favourite little critters of the day; the otters. They were playing tug of war with their straw bedding in their little hut, tumbling and squeaking. Then they went outside for a swim!

otters Newquay Zoo

Thank you to all of you who voted for my blog in the UK Blog Awards, voting is now closed and you will be the first to know when I hear anything!

Today I'm linking up at Handmade Harbour and Paint Party Friday.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Cornwall, the Thames and mandalas

Right, I wrote this whole post out before remembering that tomorrow is the last day you can vote for my blog in the UK Blog Awards! For those of you who don't know, I've entered in the Arts and Crafts category. I have no idea what happens if you win and I don't expect to find out, but it would be lovely, if you enjoy reading my blog, if you could pop over and vote. Thanks peeps, now on with the post...

This week we're on our holidays in Cornwall, yippee! We're staying in a beautiful little cottage called Phillack in St Erth, close to Hayle on the West coast. It's welcoming and homely, and lovely and warm which is a real treat considering we spend most of our time at home layering jumpers to save on the heating bill!

Phillack - St Erth, holidaycottages.co.uk

It's part of a barn which has been newly converted into three cottages and is just the most peaceful and cosy little place. I ran around taking these photos when we'd just arrived, before we could make it untidy!

Phillack - St Erth, holidaycottages.co.uk

It was a beautifully sunny day yesterday, too hot for a coat, even, which is surely unheard of just a few days before December. First stop on Saturday morning was Gwithian to check out the waves - brace yourself for a very photo heavy post today!

Gwithian, Cornwall

Then we went into St Ives where I sat and painted overlooking the swathe of golden sand and turquoise water that is Porthmeor Beach while Sam went in for a surf.

Porthmeor, St Ives, Cornwall

If it wasn't for the long shadows, I think these photos look like they could have been taken in summer!

Porthmeor, St Ives, Cornwall

My painting still needs quite a bit of work and I'm not sure I'll ever get around to finishing it, but here's a peek.

Painting of Porthmeor Beach

When Sam finished surfing, there was just time to squeeze in a pasty stop before heading back for a cosy evening in the cottage.

This morning we got up early as Sam went off to check out the surf in Gwithian while I spent a couple of hours working on the Thames map. Yes, I did bring it along - there's no rest for the wicked! My workspace was a little different from normal!

Thames Map Illustration

I can now reveal that the client is Le Boat, a fantastic company which hire boats on the Thames and many other rivers across Europe. I have to say that working on this project has been very inspiring; there are so many lovely places to visit along the river. Before, I very naively thought of the Thames as just the section which runs through central London, but in reality it offers so much more, from peaceful countryside stretches to wonderful riverside attractions.

The part which I am illustrating is from Oxford right the way through to Teddington Locks, as this is the section navigable in the company's boats. I've finished outlining the whole map now, and am feeling excited about starting to paint, if a little nervous!

Thames Map Illustration

After a morning indoors, beavering away, it was nice to get out for a walk near Godrevy this afternoon. It was a little shorter than it could have been as dark grey clouds were threatening rain, so we thought it was better to be safe than sorry.

Godrevy, Cornwall

I always think 'people' photos are far more interesting than landscapes, so just to prove I was there, here are a few Sam took.

Clare Willcocks at Godrevy Cornwall

Clare Willcocks at Godrevy Cornwall

There are those clouds!

Clare Willcocks at Godrevy Cornwall

I'll end this post with a photo of a mandala I doodled last night. My Mum has been working on some gorgeous crochet mandalas in vibrant colours and I've seen quite a lot on Pinterest recently, so wanted to give drawing one a go.

Mandala Doodle

Not as neat or precise as it could be, but I've started another one with some lines underneath as a guide, so hopefully I'll have that to share next week!

Mandala Doodle

Have a lovely week everyone! Over and out...

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

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: http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/Clare-Willcocks

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.