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Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Final leg of the learning curve

This month I’ve been talking a lot about perspective with this month’s review being the book ‘Perspective & Composition’ by Barrington Barber (you can read it here). I’ve been continuing my learning curve with practising using the 1-point and 2-point perspective method and looking up examples of good perspective artwork.

I found this youtube video to be particularly good in clearly explaining the method (click to open new window): ‘How to Draw in Perspective for Beginners‘. Youtube can be a great resource for art enthusiasts, particularly those who are teaching themselves.

I’ve been a member of the website DeviantArt for a while now (my first account was set up in 2006!) and I’ve always found it an inspiring place as you get to see other’s art work and browse whatever topic takes your fancy. This past week I’ve been taking a look at ‘perspective’ and here are some pieces that really caught my eye, some because they clearly show the use of perspective lines. Click the names to be taken to the profile.

TitaniumDream

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‘Perspective Practise’ by TitaniumDream

I like how this piece is a mix of imagination and theory. You can clearly see this is an exercise in perspective and can see the 2-point perspective lines.

EpHyGeNiA

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‘Anatomic Perspective’ by EpHyGeNiA

In the book I reviewed last week there were various examples of where perspective can be used. The human body was briefly covered and this is an example by EpHyGeNiA.

 

LisaCrowBurke

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‘2-pt Vertical Perspective’ by LisaCrowBurke

I love this piece as it’s so interesting. I think it’s a great example of an interesting perspective but I think it’s made so much more than that by the inclusion of the pigeons.

 

 

Next week I’ll be bringing you a special St David’s day tutorial and I’m excited to say that soon I’ll be visiting the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition: ‘Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing‘ to mark the 500th anniversary of the famous artist’s death.

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Monthly Review: Perspective & Composition

Last week I talked a bit about the online art course I’ve started and how one unit had been focusing on perspective (link). The unit prompted me to dig a bit deeper into the subject and today I’ll be reviewing the book ‘Perspective & Composition’.

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Full title: Essential Guide to Drawing; Perspective & Composition

Author: Barrington Barber

Price: £4.99 – £23

Where to buy: WaterstonesBook Depository, Amazon, ebay

About: An instructional guide to the ‘rules’ of perspective and composition, with step-by-step exercises.

I first came across Barrington Barber’s instructional drawing books when I was a teenager and used to lap up the art books in The Works. Although this particular book claims to be ‘practical and inspirational’ I’d argue that the former is at least true! As someone who loves step-by-step instructions both written and with visuals, I do like Barber’s books. However, this more methodical, instructional tone doesn’t exactly get you fired up with creative ideas. The covers of Barber’s books tend to be quite tame with a ‘school’ vibe about them and the interior looks almost text-booky. However, the contents is quality.

The layout is logical, with a clear font, sub-titles and diagrams so is good for all kinds of learners, be they visual or more text-based. There are also mini projects throughout to ensure you understand the concepts being explained so there’s a good balance of theory and practical.

I think this book would be best suited to art students, particularly around GCSE and would be useful in a classroom or tuition setting. Although, it would also be useful for those teaching themselves. One section mentions ‘Compositions by Master Artists’, which could potentially encourage further research and study.

Another thing I like about this book is that although it’s short it tries to keep the users interest by covering different ways of using perspective, for example when drawing people or objects in addition to just landscapes and scenes.

Although this book wouldn’t encourage me to purposely seek out any more of Barber’s books I did take something away from it and it’s worth a read if you’re really struggling with the concept of perspective. For me, the best way to learn about perspective is to practice, practice, practice and learn to trust your eyes; draw what you see, not what you think you should see.

Gaining some perspective

As any artist will know it can be difficult to focus when your mind is all over the place. Lately, my mind has been flitting from one thing to another meaning any sustained period of work has seemed near impossible! However, I’ve had a couple of short sessions over the past week where I felt really engrossed in my work and felt I channelled a lot of emotion.

I feel like art isn’t just a subject for some people, it’s so much more. To me, it’s not just something I’m ‘good at’, it’s an outlet, a distraction, part of my identity. Art is such a huge part of who I am I feel like it’s actually part of me, which is actually really quite reassuring when you’re battling with identity and trying to establish your place in this busy world.

I’ve started my distance learning with the London Art College and so far I’m finding it interesting. Initially I was wary of the way Unit 1 had me going right back to very basics but I feel like I still took something away from it. Unit 2 was interesting as it covered perspective, which is something I haven’t particularly found myself delving in to much over the 15 years I’ve been studying art. It was generally assumed that perspective was just a matter of getting the proportions and distance of what you were looking at right. Unit 2 took a more…’geometry-based’ approach (if that’s the right term to describe it) which actually had me searching the library to find out more. Next week I’ll be reviewing the book ‘Perspective & Composition’ by Barrington Barber. Perspective isn’t something you generally always have to worry about in the world of Illustration and I’ve found many inspiring pieces that appeal to the eye that aren’t in perfect perspective. It got me thinking of my own work though and how I’ve dealt with perspective without using the system described in Unit 2. Generally, I rely greatly on my own perception and trust what my eyes are seeing. I remember being just 8 years old and a teacher saying to me: we often draw what we think we should see, not what we actually see. I’ve remembered this ever since and always make a point of saying this to myself when I’m drawing from life. Below is an example of how I’ve used perspective relying on this concept.

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‘Union Street’ by Hanna-Mae Williams

At the moment I’m working on a still life piece that focuses on using shading to create depth. The advice given was to focus on the display as a whole. This is a real challenge for someone like me who often gets bogged down in the details! But I’ll be posting the finished piece soon. It feels good to be working in pencil again and taking time out from life to be creative.

 

 

 

 

Seasons Tweetings!

Seasons Greetings to all my followers! What a year! It’s been a while since I last posted, I’ve been inundated with hospital and clinic appointments, but now thankfully I have some time to myself to ease myself in to a less chaotic time, and just enjoy the season. And I kicked off with trying a craft I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: needle felting. I’ve been saying for years that it’s a craft I’d love to learn, and finally I had an excuse! My friend bought me a needle felting kit for my birthday. Take a look at my sweet little robin, who I will be giving to my Grandmother who is a wonderfully creative and crafty lady and will appreciate the love and effort behind him. If you feel like giving this satisfying craft a go, I’ve managed to find some vegan-friendly, wool-free options too! Heidi Feather’s has a wonderful starter kit which includes all you need to get going, along with a project book full of cute ideas from a robin, elephant, penguin, and even bunting (HeidiFeathers)

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Christmas is always a time when people become a bit more generous, and embrace love for one another more, and lately I’ve been reading some inspiring articles that have really brought in to focus the changes I want to make myself, not just this time of year, but for the year ahead, and hopefully the future. Already I’m laying the foundations for my New Year’s resolutions by making small changes.

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There are two books which I’d recommend if you’re interested in making similar goals. ‘Touching Peace‘ by Buddhist poet, scholar, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh may have an unassuming cover, but inside can be found gems of wisdom on many topics, from relationships to diet and general daily living. The second book I’m going to recommend is ‘Zero Waste Home‘ by Bea Johnson, which is an interesting read for anyone thinking of embarking on a more environmentally-aware lifestyle. This year I’m also pairing up with a resolution buddy! A nice idea as you can encourage one another when your motivation is flagging.

As well as being the start of a hopefully more aware year, I’ll also be kicking off 2018 as I mean to go on – in a creative way. I’m happy to say that this year I’ll once again be taking part in the Y Galeri Caerffili‘s Winter Art Exhibition after my piece ‘The Artistic Autistic’ was chosen to be included. I created this piece with the intention of communicating how it feels to live with autism in our modern world. Many people with autism have sensory issues, which can lead to what’s known as ‘sensory overload’. Whilst most people are able to filter out outside stimulus, this can be difficult for people with autism, meaning we experience a constant flow of sounds, sensations, and sights, which can become overwhelming. I chose the colours carefully to try to communicate the feeling. If you’re interested to know how it feels to experience sensory overload, there are some great autism simulators on the web. If you know someone with autism it’s definitely worth taking a look at these: Sensory overload simulator

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‘The Artistic Autistic’ Oils on canvas board

It’s become somewhat a tradition of mine to have a real sort out of everything at the beginning on December and put my decorations up, and this year I found a stash of artwork that I’ve accumulated over the years, some up to 6 years old. It was interesting to see how my style and the materials I use have changed over the years.

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As promised earlier in the year, I also kept a visual diary of my visits to my hospital/clinic appointments. I took the time I would have spent just sitting waiting to challenge myself and create super quick sketches – something which I find a bit difficult as I’m a stickler for detail! Here are just some of my sketches.

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Hopefully in the new year I’ll be back to my usual weekly posts, with reviews, tutorials, and the occasional vegan recipe thrown in!

Merry Christmas (and a belated Yule to any Pagan followers out there)

xxx

Experiments with pen

My latest piece, step-by-step. Love the versatility of ProMarkers!

Title: The Autistic Brain

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First steps

It’s been a while since I posted, and although I’m not tip-top I feel as though I’m taking the first steps on a long, but ultimately positive one. After years of pain that has got increasingly worse, I finally have a diagnosis. I feel it’s a bitter-sweet thing, as now that I know what I’m dealing with I can tackle it head-on by researching my condition, and trying things that have helped others. I’m hopeful that physiotherapy will prove useful, and I’m keen to explore all avenues. In terms of my mental wellbeing I feel this is just as important as my physical wellbeing, and feel as though, for the first time in a long time, my mind is open to new ways of thinking and living my life. It’s early days, but I feel a change is afoot.

I’ve been keeping up with ‘Project Speedy Sketch‘ and am quite excited at the prospect of curating an online mini exhibition to share with you. I’ve also been experimenting with pens after stumbling upon some unbelievably detailed work that I never imagined could be achieved with this medium. To keep myself busy I’ve been taking my sketchbook along with me to various places keep my mind occupied and teach myself how to use this medium. I often use fineliner, and have tried brush pens in the past with no real breakthrough, but was inspired by how these talented artists (see end of post for awe-inspiring work) managed to achieve such works of art! I’ve been dabbling with Winsor & Newton promarkers and find myself currently ‘on the fence’ as to whether this is a medium I’ll pursue.

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In addition to this I’ve also been putting some finishing touches to my Spring/summer children’s clothing collection, and have donated some pieces to charity. As my health has been quite tricky this year, I’m gearing up for a ‘proper’ launch when I’m feeling stronger. I’m thrilled to bits with the tags I had made by RibbonReelPrinting on etsy, and as the story behind my clothing is such a significant part of what I do, I’ve added a tag with an explanation on to each item.

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I’ve also taken my Folksy shop off ‘holiday mode’ and re-listed some of my items. I’ve also added sections to make it easier to navigate. If you’re looking for a unique card for Father’s Day (don’t forget – June 18th!) then take a look at my cute illustrated keepsake card.

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I’ve got loads more so share with you over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for new book reviews, vegan recipes, and lots of inspiration. You can find a list of all previous reviews and inspiration here: List

To finish I’m leaving you with some ink work that will leave you amazed! (Click names to visit full online gallery)

Ekaterina Putyatina

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Ekaterina produces artwork that’s so realistic it could almost be a photo! Her attention to detail is what really drew me to her fantastic work.

 

Wheeler3030

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New to Deviantart.com but so far I like what I see! Each piece in Wheeler’s gallery is jam-packed with interesting detail – each time you look you notice something different.

 

 

Sydney Nielsen (SydneyNielsenArt)

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As soon as I saw Sydney’s gallery I was hooked! Her work is bursting with colour and life. This piece appealed to the side of me that loves pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art vs Craft

There’s nothing new with me dividing my time between art and sewing, but as I’ve been working towards a deadline (in this case a birthday) the balance has been significantly tipped, and I’ve been dedicating as much time to embroidering and sewing as possible.

The giftee owns a camper van and is always complaining of cold hands (yet refuses to wear gloves!) and so the little grey cells in my head set about providing a solution…

Introducing the cuddly camper cushion! A personalised cushion to keep in the back of your van, with a pouch to store reusable hand warmers.

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And as I’m so fond of recycling/upcycling, I made use of fabric left over from December’s inspiration board tutorial and utilised studs rescued from a handbag destined for the landfill.

artyWhen I’ve had the chance I’ve been sneaking a few hours here and there to work on an illustration using graphitint, putting the pencils through their paces ready for next month’s review. The piece was inspired by some old books I came across whilst sorting through my grandmother’s belongings. She, like myself, has always appreciated the beauty of nature. One book in particular caught my eye – The Hamlyn Animal Encyclopedia. It may have a dingy, stained exterior, but inside lies a treasure trove of detailed illustrations.

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For my piece I chose animals and fungi native to Britain that I thought would compliment the limited colour palette of the tinted graphite and not deduct anything from their natural interest/beauty; the shape was as important as the palette, with the curved backs of the Pine Marten adding to the symmetry – something I use quite often in my work, particularly my paper cuts.

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Pine Marten’s used to be a regular sight in Wales in the past, but during the 19th and 20th century became all but extinct. However, conservationists are trying to prevent this, and in 2015 the Pine Marten Recovery Project (part of The Vincent Wildlife Trust) attempted to recover numbers in Wales by transporting some from Scotland.

Finally, as my regular readers will know, I like to discover and share inspiring artwork and artists, so this week I leave you with a mini collection I’ve named ‘Wonderful Wildlife’. Click the icon to be directed to each artist gallery/profile. Click image to view full-size.

Mountain Bluebird‘ by Pamela Earleywine

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About: Caroline’s Deviantart gallery is full of beautiful nature/wildlife inspired art work, as well as exquisite portraits and sketches.

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White Lies‘ by Tess Garman.

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About: This gallery is packed full of impressive use of colour, with animals being a core subject. She captures expression so well and there’s a boldness to her work.

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Fungus Study’ by Ruvell Saylon Ates.

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About: Ruvell’s gallery is an interesting mixing pot of studies such as the one above, fantasy, and the occasional photo. I’m especially keen on his fungi studies, including ‘ Black Morel Study‘.

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Coming next month: Special crafty tutorial to mark St David’s Day.

 

Monthly review- Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been putting Derwent’s Inktense watercolour pencils to the test with interesting results. As promised, here’s everything you need to know…

Product name: Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils (24 set tin)

Price: £18.99-£40.75

Rating: 4/5

About: A tin of 24 watercolour pencils which can be used with or without water.

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Having relied on the same brand of watercolour pencils for the past 9 years I was excited to try these and, I admit it, slightly sceptical that they would live up to their implied vibrancy…but I was pleasantly surprised!

Although it took me a little while to get used to the softness of the tips (more on this later) when I got stuck in I was delighted to see a vibrant drawing begin to emerge. The quality of these pencils are evident, and provide an intensity I personally find hard to achieve with other, ‘normal’ watercolour pencils.

What I like about these pencils is the control you get. They’re very versatile in the way that they offer the best of both worlds; if you want a softer, subtler effect this can be achieved by using light pressure, whilst if you want the promised ‘inktense’ effect this is achievable by layering and applying the right amount of pressure. The fact that the drawing may be left as it is, or diluted/smoothed over by applying water with a brush afterwards also demonstrates this versatility. I found I was happy with the effect I had achieved without feeling the need to add water.

However, as you can tell from the comments above, it would take someone who has at least some experience with watercolour pencils to understand about the amount of pressure you need to add, which is why these wouldn’t spring to mind when thinking of children or beginners. I feel these pencils are suited more to practicing artists, particularly as they’re quite expensive.

As I mentioned earlier, the tips of these pencils are very soft. Whilst watercolour pencils are often very soft in comparison to ‘normal’ coloured pencils, these seemed softer than the average. So, if like me you like to work with a very sharp tip you’ll need to sharpen these often and with a scalpel/thin craft knife. Due to the soft nature of the tips they’ll become ‘blunt’ quicker, particularly if you’re using them with the aim to produce that promised vibrancy.  This makes them less cost-effective so there’s a bit of a trade off: vibrancy or pencil life?

To conclude I’d say that these are a genuine pleasure to use, which will be picked up by artists who appreciate their materials. They’re something I would use for a special piece, or if material costs were included in a commission, otherwise, these are good to put on Christmas and birthday lists!

wherebuyThe most competitive prices seem to be on amazon, but these pencils are available in stores too. The Range stocks Derwent Inktense 24 tin (as well as 12) at £29.99, whilst Hobbycraft stocks them for £30 and are currently offering those who join the Hobbycraft club 15% off their first online order.

 

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Undiluted watercolour pencil drawing, Hanna-Mae Williams

 

 

 

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watercolour pencil drawing with ink background. Hana-Mae Williams

 

 

 

 

Quentin Blake exhibition review

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What: The Quentin Blake: Inside Stories exhibition

Where: National Museum Cardiff

When: Tues-Sun 10-4:45 until 20th November 

Admission: Free

About: A temporary exhibition showing the work of illustrator Quentin Blake, including optional activities, coinciding with Cardiff’s ‘Roald Dahl 100 Wales’ celebrations.

Why visit?

Although Quentin Blake is best known for his work illustrating Roald Dahl’s children’s books, what’s so wonderful about this exhibition is the fact that, whilst there’s certainly enough to keep children occupied (including a drawing/reading table, as well as questions around the walls to encourage engagement with the stories and drawings) there’s also a more ‘in-depth’ side, possibly more appealing to older children and adults, with written explanations accompanying each section, and best of all (in my opinion at least) the chance to see Blake’s artistic process.

There are two audio/video stations situated in the room showing the illustrator at work in his studio, with descriptions of how he goes about creating his images. As an illustrator I found this to be the most interesting part of the exhibition, as it allowed you to take a step into a successful illustrators studio and identify with what he was saying. You got to see not just refined, polished images in a book, but to delve into the nitty-gritty – the ‘before’, the reality with which so many art students will identify with. Perhaps the most refreshing thing to be said by Blake himself was that, despite his almost slap-dash style (bold, untidy lines, watercolour spilling out of said lines) he admits he actually has doubts in his ability at times just like all of us. I recommend all art students, from GCSE to degree level, to visit the exhibition and view this peek behind the scenes.

Another pleasant surprise was the inclusion of work illustrating areas of literature that you definitely wouldn’t associate with Quentin Blake’s quirky style. After being charmed by Blake’s Roald Dahl work, the exhibition progresses to contents of a more unexpected nature, for example Voltaire’s philosophical tale: Candide. The fact that Blake stays true to his distinct style, whilst presenting us with illustrations of a somewhat gruesome nature actually, in a peculiar and perverse way adds to the morbidity of the tale. The exhibition presents a holistic view of Blake’s work and life as an illustrator, and challenges initial thoughts and assumptions by  showing us this less talked about serious side. The part of the exhibition which I found to be most affecting was Blake’s illustrations accompanying Michael Rosen’s ‘Sad Book’ – telling the true tale of Rosen’s grief at the loss of his son. Blake captures the feelings of desolation and hopelessness perfectly, perhaps surprising to those who associate his work with tales of magic and fantasy.

The exhibition offers the opportunity to be as much or as little as you choose. From flitting around the relatively small gallery space browsing the illustrations, to spending hours discovering the stories behind the work and learning more about the illustrator, this exhibition will suit any time frame. In terms of souvenirs however, whilst the free entry may be kind on your wallet the merchandise is more than pocket money may cover. It would have been nice to have seen more illustrated postcards too, something which you can almost always rely on to accompany the exhibitions.

Extras:

♦See if you can spot the rogue BFG drawing that seems to have slipped into the ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ display case!

♦Check out the impressive and atmospheric copper engravings in the main gallery, by David Jones.

 

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