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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

Month

March 2017

Spring has sprung!

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The days are getting longer, the daffodils are in bloom, and each morning I’m greeted with the sound of a blackbird singing his heart out. It can only mean one thing…spring has sprung! I’ve been celebrating the changing of seasons by capturing the beauty of nature by collecting and pressing interesting leaves and flowers (non-protected species of course) to use in a craft I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time: paper making.

I have a family member who adores card making, and her birthday is coming up in April. I’m always looking for something meaningful that reaches further than just being a mass-produced item, so, in support of recycling and hand made crafts, I’ve decided to make a mini paper stack for her to use in her own craft, with petals and leaves from my mini adventures set in. I’ve been taking photographs of the beauty I’ve witnessed along the way, to share my experience with her, which I’ll put in a miniature handmade album (tutorial to make your own coming later this year!)

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Whilst on the subject of unique and handmade gifts, I’d also like to introduce you to a talented crafter who works with stained glass. Wanting something beautiful to brighten someone’s day I came across Joy’s Folksy shop and found a gorgeous one-of-a-kind sun catcher. I recommend taking a look at the stunning items in her shop. It was so difficult to choose just one!

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Joy’s Folksy shop: link

Joy’s website: link

As my readers will know I’m often working on multiple creative projects, and one I’ve been working on for a good half a year is soon to be revealed! At the beginning of the year I promised to produce a collection of spring/summer eco wear by April, and now April is just around the corner. On the 1st I’ll be posting the first images of my hand-sewn children’s clothing, made almost entirely from recycled/upcycled material. I promise lots of colour, pattern, and of course uniqueness. And just for my blog readers, here’s a little sneak peak of what to expect…

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How do you turn frustration into something productive? How do you share an experience with someone when the moments gone?

Until the end of 2017 I’ll be working on a mini-project (project ‘Speedy Sketch’) where I’ll be documenting the health-related side of my life through quick illustrations. Moments spent in hospital, doctor, and clinic waiting rooms will be put to use to capture my surroundings, and at the end of the year I’ll curate an online exhibition, to share with my readers little glimpses of what I’ve seen along the way.

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nextmonth

1st April – the big eco clothing reveal!

7th April – Easter Inspiration, including alternative (and further-reaching) gift ideas

15th April – Monthly tutorial: The second of 2017’s new content addition: vegan recipes. This one will be how to make a healthier, delicious alternative to Easter eggs for those wanting something a little more nutritious or different; Vegan bunny-shaped savoury oat cakes (and how to present them)

23rd April – The previously promised Graphitint pencils review

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Floral inspiration

 

Last week I brought you a review of the wonderful temporary exhibition currently at The National Museum & Art Gallery in Cardiff: ‘Nature’s Song; Chinese Bird and Flower Paintings‘. Feeling inspired by the experience I decided to have a rummage around the internet to find other appreciators of this delicate art genre, who have created work reminiscent of the traditional style. I unearthed some superb examples (please visit artist online gallery for full-size images) here are my top 3…

1‘Chinese Hibiscus’ by Nikole Lowe of Nikole Lowe Paintings on Etsy.

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I love the delicacy of this piece, something which was really evident in the original 16th century work on display at the exhibition. What makes this piece really special is the fact that Nikole has used Chinese paints on rice paper, in a nod to tradition. Her Etsy shop is full of must-see original paintings, mostly dedicated to this particular style. You’ll even find an adult colouring book and an interesting video of Nikole at work.

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2I came across Claudia Hahn’s work on Deviantart and was mesmerised by her bright and soulful depictions of nature. Her gallery is bursting with inspiring artwork, including this Peony painting done entirely with beetroot juice and tea!

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3I love how Etsy shop owner Vartus Varadian has utilised her talent as a form of meditation (she describes how she took up Chinese brush painting in response to illness) as well as making this art form accessible to all. Her work is available in card form, is affordable, and is a joy to look at.

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Recently I joined an art group run by Mind,  and decided it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with my own Chinese art-inspired piece. I often use photographs as a reference, but with such a limited slot of time this proved to be an exercise in improvisation as well as observation. Having completed the base drawing and graphite sections during the session, I applied colour from memory later on, using Inktense watercolour pencils. In my initial review of these pencils I was impressed with the delivery of the promised colour intensity, but it took this small painting to really make me realise that these pencils really come into their own when diluted.

 

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With Mother’s day around the corner, I thought it would be a nice idea to turn my little drawing/painting into a card, and here’s what I came up with…

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A change of schedule. You’ve got to see this…

A bit of a change in schedule with this month’s review! I’ve pushed the promised Graphitint review back until next month (I was surprised by how they handled – more next month) to allow you plenty of time to visit this inspiring exhibition:

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What: Nature’s Song; Chinese Bird and Flower Paintings

Where: National Museum & Art Gallery, Cardiff

When: Until 23/04/2017 Tuesday-Sunday 10-5

Admission: Free

About: An exhibition showing and explaining traditional Chinese flower and bird paintings from as far back as the 16th century. 

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What really stuck me about this exhibition was just how thought-out and thorough it was. It was evident from the moment I stepped through the double doors into the space that whoever was behind the curation of this exhibition had passion.

Far from being what most would expect of an exhibition of paintings – walking around a space, looking at pictures on a wall, this exhibition is about becoming part of something. As you step into the space you’re immersed in a culture. You’ll initially be greeted by an information board offering introductory information, behind it a Chinese room divider, with a table offering high quality colour exhibition leaflets.

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Not only are they informative, but also multilingual – another example of thoroughness, which is continued throughout the entire exhibition. Video/audio adds a whole other dimension and interest to the exhibition, with the sound of spoken Chinese and traditional instrumental music wafting through the space, accompanied by English and Welsh subtitles! This exhibition accommodates thoughtfully for their most likely visitors.

I was surprised by the size of the space too. However, the space wasn’t sparse nor jam-packed to the extent of feeling claustrophobic. Visitors could move around comfortably without bothering each other, but never be short of points of interest. A wooden bench in front of the projected video was a sensible touch, and again, a thoughtful one.

In addition to the large screen there was also a small video station situated in front of what I’d describe as an installation, showing a replica work room, displaying traditional-style furniture, paper scrolls, and tools such as brushes and holders (copies of which are available in the gift shop). This allows you to truly appreciate the process and situation in which the surrounding artwork was created, especially as the video demonstrates how the tools would have been used.

notsoIt’s hard to find fault with such a well thought-out and intriguing exhibition, however there was one aspect that I’m still on the fence about: the lighting. Whilst I can appreciate the intention behind the decision to include ambient lighting to create a certain serene atmosphere, I feel that by allowing the lighting to be a form of creativity in itself (there were also lighting effects – patterns on the floor resembling waves) it took focus away from the real beauty – the exquisite art. I feel that this should have been pared back a bit, and I personally felt I wanted to turn the lighting up to properly see the detail in each piece, though some may argue that the dim lighting reflected the delicacy of the work.

concludePersonally speaking, ‘Nature’s Song’ proved to be one of my favourite temporary exhibitions of the past few years, and has real substance to it. For art history fans, cultural studies students, and of course artists and art appreciators, this exhibition offers not only beautiful visual aspects, but also a peek into a whole way of life and working.

In regards to child-friendliness, I feel this exhibition is more for older children, who can appreciate the art as more than just a ‘painting on a wall’. This is an exhibition to take your time in contemplative silence around. With Easter half term around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunity to keep GCSE and A-level art students immersed (and hopefully inspired) for a while. I may just go back for a second look…

 

 

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Monthly tutorial: Scrap daffodil brooch

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Here in Cymru we’re celebrating Saint David’s Day, so as promised I’m bringing you a special Saint David’s Day tutorial. Today I’m going to show you how to make a unique daffodil brooch, using just scraps of fabric and a brooch back.

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  • Yellow/orange/green fabric scraps
  • Matching cotton
  • A small sewing needle
  • A brooch back (You can find these in Hobbycraft, independent craft shops and on Amazon)
  • Fabric scissors

If using thin fabric:

  • Iron-on interfacing (available in craft/sewing shops and online)
  • Iron on adhesive (Therm-o-web, fuse-a-web etc, again available in craft/sewing shops and online)

method

 

 

 

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Start by drawing out your templates. The template for the centre of your daffodil (the spiky part) should be around double the width of the bottom of your petal template, as shown in the diagram. The good thing about this project is that you don’t have to obsess too much about measurements. The template for the centre of my daffodil was approx. 7.5cm width and 6cm in height. My petals were approx. 3.5cm in width with a peak of around 5.5cm. The leaf can bee free-hand.

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Cut your template pieces out.

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With pencil or fabric marker/chalk draw around each template and cut the shapes out. You will need to cut 10 petals, 4 leaves, and 2 centres.

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If you’re using a very ‘sturdy’ material which will hold shape well (such as felt sheets) you can skip this and the next step. If you’re using up your cotton scraps as I am, you’ll need to draw around your templates and cut out the same amount as in the previous step. Interfacing will make your fabric much more sturdy. Be sure to read the pack, as some interfacing is sew-on.

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Draw around your templates and cut out 2 leaves, 1 centre, 5 petals, and follow the instructions on the iron-on adhesive pack to stick all your pieces together, until you’re left with 5 complete petals, 2 leaves, and one centre. Don’t worry too much about precision, as we’ll be trimming the uneven edges before moving on to the next step. (NB: be very careful not to melt iron-on adhesive on to your iron! – I learnt the hard way a few years ago)

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Once you’ve trimmed any uneven edges, bring the two sides on the base of the petal together, one slightly overlapping the other, to form a slight trumpet shape.

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Sew a few little stitches to secure. Do this for all of your petals.

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Now for the centre of your daffodil. Slightly over-lap one side, and secure with a pin. Use matching cotton to sew along the edge.

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Once you’ve got you tube shape, pinch the bottom part of the tube together and secure with a few stitches.

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Now we need to attach the petals to the centre. This can be a bit tricky, so I recommend using the shortest needle you can, and allow yourself more cotton than you actually need, just to allow you some ‘manoeuvre’ space. You’re just putting  a few stitches through your petal and centre, up along the line where you’ve stitched your petal sides together.

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Repeat the above step until all of your petals are attached.

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Now our flower is complete, it’s time to work on the leaves. Just to get the leaves in the position you want, put a simple cross stitch in the centre of your crossed-over leaves.

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Take your brooch back and attach it securely to your leaves.

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Attach your flower to your leaves. You can use this step to make your brooch back even more stable; sew carefully through the centre of your daffodil, going in and out of the brooch holes each time.

 

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