Monday, 8 October 2012

Illustration Friday - Mirror

It was my youngest sons 8th birthday this weekend. Looking through his wardrobe I realised he was in need of something smart to wear to his party - he lives in tracksuit bottoms, but I thought - just this once it would be nice to see him in something smarter.  Into town I went, to search for something that  I would like - and he would tolerate!:)

I found, what I thought was, a lovely shirt and pair of trousers. 
At home, later that morning he tried them on.

I braced myself for the usual " Oh but Muuum, it's not comfy, can't I wear my tracksuit?"
But no.....he looked himself up and down  said "Oooh, these are nice" and ran to the mirror in my bedroom to have a look. 

I have never seen him express much interest in clothes (apart from tracksuits , of course) - so it was quite a surprise when  he literally started jumping  up and down and dancing about  in front of the mirror - shouting "Yay! I look cool!" 

Well, that's what gave me the idea for this proud little boy looking into the mirror at his new party clothes. Funny how inspiration sometimes just comes at the right moment.

Mirror - The New Party Clothes

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Illustration Friday 


I gave myself a challenge  - Illustration Friday in 15 minutes. 

I imagined a little child - with all his life in front of him and placed him in a room full of the books he might read in his lifetime. 

Here he sits,  in the corner of that room. 

I wonder what sorts of books they are? 

What will he be when he's older?

What influence will these books have on the shaping on his life?

All those things entered my head whilst I was drawing - I guess I like to see the story unfolding. Do you do this when you paint or draw? 

I find that timing myself occasionally makes a really good exercise. It helps me to sort out what really needs to be on the page. 

I had the remains of a black coffee sitting on the table so I used that for the brown wash - my sketch book smells lovely!

To - do - list 

Yes  I have been making a to-do-list. Not one of my usual ones - Ironing, pay school trip money, cat food, haircut, etc. but one to help with my art career. So I thought I'd share it:

On going to - do - list

Find 3 new addresses for promo (2 publishers 1 gallery)
Draw in my sketch book
Updates on Facebook as needed

Contact at least two publishers (illustration ) and 1 gallery (fine art)
Add new work to Etsy
Update my  Website – if needed
Illustration Friday
One illustration (portfolio quality)
Look at freelance job listing sites

Press Release
Blog entry
Update portfolio

and now all I've got to do is stick to it....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Catching Butterflies

I have been trying to be a little more disciplined. Tricky as that is, I have managed with some success, to paint on my two days off. I pretty much ignored the washing pile - (which would have made Edmund Hillary, hang up his climbing ropes). I took no notice of the washing up, I thought about cleaning the bathroom  - and then decided that it could wait. Instead I went to the local artshop and bought myself some watercolour paper large enough to start a double page spread illustration on. 

I worked on this for two to three days - and I'm happy with the results. It will be another piece for my portfolio - which is bulking out nicely now. 
I wanted to show potential publishers that I understood the limitations of designing a full spread illustration and take into account the positioning of the gutter, creating a scene which moves the readers eyes naturally  across the two pages from left to right.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Windy Day  - Update

As some of you may know I am working on a portfolio, focusing on the children's book market.
I have finished (finally) the painting I started a couple of posts ago - The Windy Day.
It has been rather slow progress - I am blaming this on the school holidays. The school holidays finish this week - boo! We have had such a lovely summer;  it hasn't left much time for painting - translate as.....   many pyjama mornings and fun days out with the kids - sshhh - dont tell anyone!

Anyway, sometime soon normal work had to commence so I  picked up my brushes and finished this painting. Thought you'd like to see.....

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Daily Sketchbook...

15th July 2012

"After the Game.."

Illustration Friday


I drew this illustration last week as a bit of sketchbook practice. One little lost tortoise has found some friends.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Windy Day

A while ago I made this rough painting in my sketchbook. I thought I would do a series of photos to show how the idea has progressed. 

My partner, Matt and I  are lucky enough to live near the New Forest in Hampshire, UK. Nothing beats a long walk in wellies, under the canopy of trees, climbing the fallen tree trunks, finding rope swings, jumping in the streams, and  building dams. I suppose it is these happy days which inspired this initial sketch. What do you take from your life that inspires you to create?

The painting changes a little in composition and colour palette. I wanted to capture a hint of "something about to happen" - the little child, unbeknown to mum is day dreaming at the back, the feel of the day is colder and more wintery. 

It's still a work in progress, but I think it's slowly emerging.
I am building up a portfolio of work to show children's book publishers and am thinking of including this once it's finished - what do you think? I'll post the final piece once it's completed. Hope you enjoyed looking.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Illustration Friday


To see the other entries for this weeks topic go to: Illustration Friday

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The River Itchen and Illustration Friday 

 The subject for Illustration Friday this week is "Prepare". I've only just finished last weeks subject which  was "grounded" - if only I was better "prepared"!

This is a quick sketch of me preparing to go running - my list of must haves: running watch, phone - just in case, music - earphones, tissues, water bottle,  shoes - (they're quite important) - haven't managed to leave the house without those yet - but there's still time.


.......and last weeks


Back to the running then.......
This morning I got up and out early and did my river run which I am gradually extending. The river Itchen is 45km long, it runs from Cheriton, East of Winchester down to the Southampton Water, passing through Eastleigh - which is where I live.  This morning I got up to 12km which is my best yet. Starting from Bishopstoke, near Eastleigh and running 6km up river and then back again.

I feel very fortunate to have such a beautiful place so nearby. Just running along, looking at the scenery and getting some vital "head-space". It is so peaceful, except for the odd cow, fisherman and dog walker.   Anyway, I took some  photos to share with you:

Eastleigh Railway in the background

oh, I'm in this one!

My dream house

The little bridge by Brambridge Garden Centre

Look how perfect that reflection is!

My turning round point - only 6k to go....
There is so much beautiful countryside nearby. 
We are 30mins from the coast and 15mins from the New Forest.  
This is a great place to live.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Beginning of a New Year. Beginning of a new adventure. 
A tale of career choices. A vet? An Illustrator? and Snowy the hamster....

Since I was a child I have dream't of being a children's book illustrator; well,....that ....and a vet. I spent most of my childhood drawing in my bedroom or painting at the dining room table or making sculptures out of sticks or what ever I could find in the garden. 

I was also lucky enough to have a very tolerant mother, who allowed our house to be taken over by a menagerie of animals ....two dogs, 3 cats, two tortoises, six fish, 3 syrian hamsters, 16 Russian hamsters - 14 of those fall into the miraculous birth category (initially we had two and  the man at the pet shop swore they were both females!!), two spiny stick insects, lots of fish, and a rat. As you can see,  art and animals made up a large percentage of my childhood. It was small wonder then, that they became my dream careers. Sadly, the vet dream never materialised - I chose my subjects at school from the heart  and although I loved all my pets dearly, the truth is, my heart was always much closer to the arts than the sciences. 

At the tender age of eight however, the vet dream was at it's strongest - my pet hamster "Snowy" was on his last legs and I  wanted to make a difference to all the eight year old girls who were about to lose their hamsters!! I remember confiding my future career plans to my mother. She did not hold my enthusiasm and was quick to throw a bucket of reality over my dreams of being the new Joy Adamson (only for hamsters and not lions).  "You'd never make a vet Denise!" she remarked in her Northern lilt "Your too soft! You'd never be able to put anything down!" 

And, of course she was right and I knew it. I still wonder if it could have been - but I think the welfare of hamsters belonging to eight year old girls is probably in safer hands without my veterinary skills.

So, why have I shared that with you? Well just to give you some idea about where this compulsion to draw comes from. 

At the moment I am trying to get a portfolio of work together which I think is good enough/original enough to show a children's book publisher. It's something I've wanted to do for....well...... - let's just say - too long! I am trying to find my style of drawing so that I can get work illustrating children's fiction. That's the plan anyway. With this in mind,  I am filling sketchbook after sketchbook with my scribbles. Fast gestural drawings, based on a character I invent in my head. Finding your style, it's an inherently difficult thing to do. I think I've spent many years trying to cultivate it - to no avail. It has recently occurred to me that I am trying too hard to capture this ever elusive style. Turns out, what I should have been doing is just drawing, and drawing and not thinking too hard. Analysing is paralysing.

I find the best way to do this is to draw a mindmap about them - giving me some background on the character. Then I set to work and draw...and draw and draw. I don't want a finished article - just a gesture or movement to store and use at a later date in something more finished. I draw with mad flourishes, pen rushing across the paper... Loosely, quickly, keeping that mindmap to hand. 

A year ago I would have been embarrassed to show you these sketches. I have found new confidence in sharing work recently after taking Stephanie Levy's course Creative Courage. I liked it so much I've signed up again! But I see now that even though the sketches are roughs its all art in process. So I'm taking a big leap and putting some on here for you to see.   I think it's getting me somewhere, although there's a long way to go before this  transforms into a  portfolio  - but for now the hamsters are safe!