Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer



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.


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.




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!





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.



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.



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…



Accurate drawing for beginners – tutorial


For some, it can be a bit of a slog learning how to draw. This month’s tutorial is ideal for those who have always wanted to be able to draw but can’t get the accuracy, or as a practice in recognising shape and training the eye to depict what is actually there for those with a little more experience. I was taught this method whilst at college 11 years ago and have used it regularly ever since.

You will need:


  • A reference image (your own printed photograph is ideal, alternatively you can use free image sites – be aware of copyright)
  • A pencil (I use HB/2B for drawing)
  • A fine-liner drawing pen (optional)
  • ruler
  • paper


Take your reference image and draw a box around it, with a little space around the image. It’s easier to use whole numbers; mine was 12 x 14 cm.



Measure 1cm marks along the top and bottom of the box, then draw a line using your ruler to join them.




Repeat step above along the remaining sides of your box, so you are left with a ‘grid’, which you should then number per square (e.g mine is 1-12 and 1-14 – see picture below)




You now need to draw your grid on your plain paper. Make it the same size, with the same amount of boxes. So mine would be 12 x 14 cm, with each box labelled 1-12 and 1-14. Now it’s a matter of ‘transferring’ what you see in your reference image to your piece of paper.


Work square-by-square, concentrating on how much of each square the image takes up.


Below you can see how the piece progresses, stage-by-stage. (Darkened to show pencil better)








Once you’ve finished transferring your image, you now need to rub out the numbers and lines surrounding it. I recommend Derwent eraser pen as it’s easier to get into nooks and crannies. Eraser pencils are available, as well as battery-operated eraser pens, however i feel the most purse-friendly and best working to be this eraser pen.


step6 This step is optional, but if you like a defined outline, then now is the time to carefully draw around your image with a fine liner. Normal fine liners can ‘bleed’ so it’s best to use pens intended for drawing. I use Pilot DR drawing pen in either 01 or 02. They’re widely available, including from Amazon and The Range as well as WHSmiths and Hobbycraft.



The above method can also be used as an exercise in gaining practice with colour mixing. Below is an example which I have held on to since my college days when I realised the grid system has huge potential to allow novices to develop not only an eye for seeing accurate shape and space, but also allow you to home-in on each individual square, rather than the whole picture, meaning more attention is paid to the components of a painting/image, rather than the image as a ‘whole’, which can be daunting. Painting and drawing is all about adding bit-by-bit.

Left: A section of Leonardo DaVinci’s ‘The Annunciation’ Right: Colour study 2008 Hanna-Mae Williams


See what I created using our little robin friend! Perfect for kids and colouring fans, get a unique wipe-clean Christmas card here: Folksy shop


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