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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Resurrecting the old

Recently my focus has been a bit all over the place when it comes to where to direct my creative energy. I’ve been dipping into my children’s illustration course then reviving old projects and feeling the need to work on those. Over a year ago I started an autobiographical piece that after a bereavement I felt unable to complete. I thought that that would be that, I’d never have the inclination to finish the piece as it reminded me of a difficult time in my life. However, the other day the urge to get back in to some….forgive me for this term….’serious’ art overwhelmed me.

It’s been a little while since I did what people in my life know me for, which is more fine art (not including the still life we had to do for one of the units in my course). As some of you may know over the past year I’ve been turning my focus more to less precise work and embracing the freedom of illustration but I do miss that feeling I get when I get really engrossed in detail. I’m having mixed feelings about beginning work on this piece again but I have this feeling that right now I’m supposed to be out-letting some emotion with it.

The other project I’ve brought out again is one I worked on years ago after the loss of my beautiful Springer Spaniel. Wanting to create something good from something bad I used the box her ashes came in to create a piece of work that had meaning behind it. I called it ‘The Fairy House’, but in a way it’s like a memorial piece. A lot of the materials I used represent something meaningful.

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‘The Fairy House’ by Hanna-Mae Williams

 

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‘The Fairy House’ by Hanna-Mae Williams

In addition to the box that made the main structure of the house I used twigs collected from places I visited regularly with my dog. The field I used to walk in with my Nan (who has also now passed), moss which I dried from places we’d also walked, and even the shells on the roof have their own story. Many years ago on freecycle someone was advertising a box of craft materials that had belonged to their late wife. They wanted them to go to good use as his wife had spent many hours enjoying crafting with them. I promised they would and so they became part of the Fairy House.

Some of the elements are handmade too; I used polymer clay to make tiny mushrooms that are ‘growing’ out of the roof, the blanket in the shell bed was knitted and the little pillow was a section of an old teatowel that I embroidered. A lot of work went into this project, yet for the past year the Fairy House has been sat in a shed. Now feels like the time to tidy it up a bit and decide where it belongs.

I’m enjoying my volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society and am incorporating my love of craft and all things creative into the session I’m doing. I feel like getting creative can have a positive effect on our wellbeing, even if only for the time we’re doing it.

I’m yet to visit the Da Vinci exhibition in Cardiff (I mentioned in my last blog about the nation-wide exhibitions that were being held to mark the 500th anniversary of his death) but as it’s running until the beginning of May there’s still plenty of time to get there. Since I started researching the Italian Renaissance during my A levels (13 years ago) I’ve had an interest in the subject and artists from that time. I love the use of symbolism and considered using this era in my dissertation but opted for the Symbolist Movement (late 19th century)…you can see why.

This week I’m allowing myself to just be creative in whatever way I feel. How much I create and how much I engage with my work is often dependent on how I’m feeling. This week I’m feeling in need of some freedom, to outlet emotions with whatever project feels right at the time.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Autistic and artistic!

It’s hard to believe that it’s October already, this has been a difficult year of significant loss for me but I finally feel like I’ve got my passion for art back. Lately I’ve been working on two projects, though one has taken a bit of a backseat as I’m focusing more on developing my more relaxed illustration style (which I’m doing through designing Christmas cards) whilst the other I have a feeling is going to go down a more detailed fine art route.

I’ve been enjoying just sketching out some ideas and building on them and it feels good to be creative but not worry so much about detail and the piece being ‘good’. I’m focusing more on the feeling rather than the technique. Whilst it feels so satisfying to finish a detailed piece I feel more inclined to think ‘i’ll spend this spare time working on that piece’ when it’s more relaxed. It’s not the most serious of subject matter but I’ve been working on creating a cute card design that’ll give a ‘cosy’ festive vibe.

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These are obviously just the very first steps, just my first rough sketches. Now that I have some ideas though I’ve started transferring these ideas onto mixed media paper (i wanted a bit of texture so I chose fine grain heavyweight paper (you can read all about selecting the right papers here: Choosing the right sketchbook )

As well as cracking on with my art projects last Friday I went to the Welsh Autism Show in Cardiff which was packed with information and resources. What I was especially pleased to come across was some fellow ASD artists and their brilliant work. Find out more about their work by clicking the names below. (Please bear in mind images are copyright).

Michelle Chick

Michelle is based in South Wales and has qualifications from the University of Wales in Cardiff. Her art is so detailed and she uses a variety of mediums, from watercolour to gouache and acrylics.

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‘Goldhill’ Michelle Chick
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‘Castle Combe’ Michelle Chick

 

Patrick Samuel

I loved how colourful and expressive Patrick’s work was and how he’s embracing neurodiversity rather than seeing it as a barrier.

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‘New World’ Patrick Samuel. Acrylic
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‘Time for Reflection’ Patrick Samuel. Oil pastel

 

Chris Baker

When I saw the work Chris had on display I was amazed by how realistic his drawings were. In fact, my companion thought they were photographs! It’s evident how much care and attention goes in to each piece. Chris is a self-taught artist and is available for commission.

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Chris Baker. Pencil

Have a creative week!

 

Tis the season…almost

Ok, so it’s only September but anyone who’s involved in any craft/art work will know that Christmas preparation starts way in advance. You’ve probably already seen the Christmas craft magazines creeping on to the shelves and with good reason! If you’re planning on including handmade gifts or handmade elements this year you’ll need time to actually make them! I’ve already started some rough designs for Christmas cards, which I’m doing alongside a competition entry. I was keen to see what other creatives were offering this year, so I’ve got together a list of some of my favourite card designs so far. Head on over to their online shops to see more!

Heidi Meier Textiles

It’s not just Heidi’s Christmas cards I love, she also has some gorgeous birthday/everyday cards. One of my favourites is her Blue tit card (link) Heidi’s work is that little bit ‘different’ which gives her cards a real edge. Below are two of her cards that would be perfect for Christmas, especially for a dog lover! Click the image for a direct link to the item in her Folksy shop.

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‘Toby’ by Heidi Meier

 

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‘The Last Post’ – Toby the Dog by Heidi Meier

 

Brittany Molineux

Brittany’s Etsy shop is full of gorgeous illustrations available as prints or cards and I’m really admiring her Christmas offerings. Below are two of my favourites. Click the images to be taken directly to the listing.

 

 

 

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‘Danish Houses’ by Brittany Molineux

 

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‘Partridge in a Pear Tree’ by Brittany Molineux

 

Simons Nest (Kerry Williams)

I think what I love most about Kerry’s illustrations is their quirkiness, there’s something a bit different about Kerry’s illustrations and I love that a lot of her work is nature-themed. Take a look at her Autumn/pumpkin items (perfect for Halloween!) I’m in love with the Pumpkin Spice Badge Set. The selection of mini cards below are great for celebrating the winter season.

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‘Winter Favourites’ mini greetings cards by Kerry Williams

 

Forget me not

I’m going to admit something surprising….until the other day I hadn’t touched a paintbrush for the entire month of February. As an illustrator whose whole world revolves around art, I’ve found myself in an odd space these past couple of months. I’ve kept my creative self active, as you know, by sewing and crafts, but since the beginning of the year my artistic side seems to have gone in to hibernation. The other day, fearing I’d somehow magically lost the ability to create art, I had a strong urge to return to my desk and pick up where I left off with my autobiographical piece, and as I got lost in that bubble I enter when I’m painting or drawing, the floodgates opened. I found my heart pouring in to my work, fuelled by music (which I hadn’t listened to this year until that point), and felt just like I used to when I was engrossed in a piece; the piece becomes sort of like a puzzle, like a ‘paint by numbers’ in my head, where my brain works out what colours to mix and where to put them, until bit by bit the picture forms. As I was painting, thinking about a truly adored family member who we lost at the beginning of the year, I realised what I was actually painting: Forget me not’s.

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As some of my followers may know veganism is another huge art of my life (links to recipes at the end!) and last month I was excited to attend the Viva Vegan fair in Cardiff. It seemed even more popular than last year! And it was great to see creativity, as well as compassion, was a big part of the fair. There were stalls with all sorts of creative offerings, with artists, crafters, and even a photographer selling their work. Here are my top 3, take a look at their websites, especially if you’re looking for something ethical as well as unique!

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‘Wear your voice’ website: link

I’ve mentioned this website before as I love the unique designs that are like wearing a piece of art! What’s more the fabric ink used is environmentally friendly and not tested on animals.

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‘The Healing Pear’ Website: Link

When I came across the intricately carved gemstones I was stunned that they’d been hand carved! This talented maker gets her inspiration from: ‘the amazing places I’ve been fortunate enough to call home around the world’

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‘BeWilder Nature Photography’ Website: link

I was awe struck when I saw Geraint’s stunning work. From unbelievable macro shots of insects, to birds and landscape scenes, Geraint’s online gallery brings to life the beauty of nature.

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I’ve always been interested in using art and creativity as a springboard to benefit other causes, from using it therapeutically, or in this case to contribute to animal welfare, which is why I jumped at the chance to get involved with Viva’s (link) planned art auction next year. For those who’ve never heard of Viva, they’re an animal charity promoting an ethical lifestyle and have gone from strength to strength over the past 24 years. The website is bursting with useful and interesting content, from health guides and campaign materials, to an ethical shop and recipes. Their ever expanding list of projects also includes ‘Art for Animals’, a way for artists and makers to use their talents to benefit animals. Take a look at the artists here, or if you’re a creative type then why not get involved? I’m already planning the piece I’m going to contribute!

Vegan Recipes (click to open new window)

Chickpea bites

Alternative Easter oatcakes

Healthier sushi

 

Last minute lovelies

Father’s day is fast approaching, but there’s still a little time! Support small/individual creative businesses (whilst also getting something truly unique) by checking out the creative offerings below….

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I love the little sketches Tina Martin of DaisyWings uses for her cards. This one would be perfect for a gardening fan. Visit DaisyWings on Folksy

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As a fan of print, this card really appealed to me, and Heather’s online shop is full of wonderful hand-printed items.

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When I stumbled across Claudine’s Folksy shop I was intrigued by the eclectic mix on offer. From silhouette artwork like the example above, to painted shells and clay sculptures, this shop is full of colourful and creative offerings.

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Sometimes simple gets the job done perfectly. Allistair’s cute illustrations will make any Papa Bear smile!

And finally, my own illustrated card, complete with detachable illustration.

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There is rapture on the lonely shore…

‘There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more’

From ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,

by Lord Byron,

published between 1812-1818

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently brought my focus back to the seascape I began late last year. Having recently signed up to DeviantArt (you can find me here: hmwillustration) I was excited to delve in to their user-contributed galleries, to sift through hundreds of inspiring seascapes by artists from across the globe. Here are my top inspiring pieces. Be sure to check out the links for more of these talented artist’s work and for full-size versions.

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http://hitforsa.deviantart.com/

Artist/photographer Paul has many captivating seascapes in his online gallery, and this is one of my favourite. I love the rich colours in this piece, and how the ‘traditional’ expectation of blues and greens that are associated with the sea have been completely ignored.

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http://bluefooted.deviantart.com/

As soon as I saw this piece it made me feel nostalgic as it reminded me of something I’d see in a storybook as a child. In fact, artist Erin used her favourite book ‘Winter’s Tale’ by Mark Helprin as her inspiration. I love the almost muted tones and the patterns in the sea.

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http://annmariebone.deviantart.com/

Looking at AnnMarie’s gallery I was surprised to learn she works mainly with acrylic as her pieces have a ‘softness’ I often associate with oils. The colours in this piece was what drew me to this, and it’s not just limited to this piece either. In AnnMarie’s gallery you’ll find tons of stirring pieces, I highly recommend checking out her ‘Golden Wave’ painting, which uses colour in a way that may surprise some.

Micro Review: An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory

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Full title: An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

Author: Danny Gregory

ISBN: 978-1600610868

Publisher: HOW books (US)

Price: From £8.29 – £18.78

About: A look inside the sketchbooks and lives of 50 creatives, chosen by author Danny Gregory, acting more as a curator of inspirational material than traditional ‘author’.

Why buy?:

♥ Ideal for visual-minded people (the very people often interested in the subject matter in the first place) It appeals wonderfully to its target audience. A visual table of contents is one example of the thought put into the layout/aesthetic of the book.

♥ The contents is international, giving the impression of dedication on the author’s part to unearth the creme de la creme of the art & design world. From Scotland to Sweden, Gregory reaches across the globe to compile his top 50.

♥ I can liken the contents to pinterest – You pick this book up looking for ‘creative inspiration’ and are met with a mass of results all in one place. From sketchbook pages, to photographs of work spaces, it’s all inside the pages of this book!

♥ It’s not style-biased. Often our own preferences see us gravitating towards a certain style; in Gregory’s book you’ll find no such thing! The book includes everything from traditional children’s book illustration, to digital drawings such as those by Barry Gritt, and even more detailed work with a more ‘fine arty’ feel.

 

Where can I get it?

Aside from searching your local library, the book can be purchased at a reasonable price on Amazon. The book was published in the USA, but after having a search around I found it quite easy to source as it was distributed in the UK. Click below to find out more:

‘An Illustrated Life’ on Amazon

‘An Illustrated Life’ on ebay

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