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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Finding inspiration

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I have two ‘go-to’ ways of working, but I find the easiest and most relaxed to be working from a photograph. By working this way you don’t have to worry about changes in light, or changes in position, and are free to re-visit your piece at a pace to suit you.

There are many websites offering royalty-free images (some you pay for, others you don’t) but inspiration for your work can be found in unexpected places. The other week I visited a garden centre, which always offers a huge range of sometimes unusual, stunning flowers and plants. Build yourself a collection of photographs you’ve taken and store them in a file that you can revisit when in need of a quick reference image. This can save huge amounts of time searching for reference images on the internet. My own file has grown over the years and is organised into sections for easy navigation, including ‘plants & flowers’ ‘people’ ‘places’ and more.

Inspired by my recent trip I decided to create a painting that centred around a floral theme, using my favourite variety: the daffodil.

‘I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.’

Williams Wordsworth, 1802

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Five fabulous florals to check out (click title to open new window):

The Last Flowers by TanyaShatseva

Alice and the Flowers by thedancingemu

When Flowers Dream by Puimun

Withered Flowers Illustration by Urielstempest

Watercolor Flower 4 by faegirlmara

 

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Some Wednesday words of wisdom

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When working on a fine-detail drawing, to get an extra sharp pencil point use both a sharpener and then gently run a very sharp craft knife over the tip. I use Kum Extra Long Point Pencil Sharpener and Jakar Hobby Knife.

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If you use turpentine to thin your oil paints or oil pastels, a cheaper yet just as effective alternative is to head to the DIY section/shop and look out for ‘white spirit’. Price comparison: Winsor & Newton ‘Artists White Spirit’ (turpentine) from The Range – £7.99 per litre. Wickes ‘White Spirit Low Odour’ – £1.90 per litre. Note: Please follow environmental/safety advice provided with turpentine/white spirit.

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Save jam jars, marmalade jars, coffee jars etc. Especially if you are using oils/water-mixable oils, you will need to replace water jars several times a year as grime builds up.

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I was delighted to discover B pencils that exceeded the usual 6B maximum you often get in sketching sets, yet, in my personal experience 7B-9B pencils offer not much more depth. To get deeper shadows, try cross-hatching using a fine-liner. I use Pilot DR drawing pens in 01 and 02. BE WARNED: Use a light touch to avoid crushing the nib!

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And whilst on the topic of fine-liners…don’t be tempted by pens that aren’t designed to be used in art work as they may bleed. Some things are ok to scrimp on, whilst others in the long run will cost you more. Plastic palettes and rulers – yes; paper, brushes, and mediums in general – no.

Taking Great Photos – Quick book review

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Title: The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos: Foolproof techniques to make your handmade creations shine online

Author: Heidi Adnum

Publisher: Search Press Ltd (21st Dec 2011)

Price: £12.99

Are you a crafter looking to show off your work online? Or perhaps an artist wanting to show your work in it’s best light? Whether you’re a complete novice in the world of photography, or are an old hand just looking for tips and ideas on brushing up your skills, then this is the book for you!

Organised into logical chunks and divided by craft (for example ‘fashion & fabrics’ and ‘knitting & needle craft’) the book is easy to navigate your way around, whilst also having the benefit of visual examples to accompany written instructions, for those of us who learn better by demonstration rather than text alone.

However, to fully understand the layout I strongly recommend scanning the contents pages before you begin (something often overlooked in eagerness to ‘get stuck in’) as subjects such as ‘light’ are found not only in the ‘camera basics’ section, but also further on in the ‘DIY accessories tutorials’ section, which without understanding the layout could cause confusion.

What’s wonderful about the book is that, unlike some photography books, it’s not automatically assumed that the reader has extensive, or even further than a basic understanding of photography, and guides you step-by-step, from the very beginning (getting to grips with a camera) to the very end (editing, uploading, and generally making use of your photos).

The book also includes interviews with practitioners who work within each subject area, for example knitting, and presents relevant questions. This allows beginners to learn from other’s experiences, saving time spent ‘hitting and missing’ – this has already been done for you! and the resulting conclusions/tips there for the taking.

The book also takes into consideration cost, meaning it’s in-tune with the reality of the often limited budget of artists and crafters. What you spend on purchasing this book, you could potentially save on photography equipment. The section ‘DIY accessories tutorials’ offers relatively simple and low-effort (not to mention inexpensive) ways of creating everything from a tripod, to a light tent and light box.

My second recommendation is to arm yourself with a pen and notepad and take notes as you read, as there are so many useful hints and tips throughout. After reading the book I came away with several pages of useful advice. Below are my top 5 favourite:

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  1. Read your camera manual! (yes, it may sound obvious, but we’re often so eager to get started with our gadgets that we fail to consult the manual. Learn the modes/settings on your camera)
  2. Plan your shoot beforehand
  3. To show the scale of your fabric, use items involved in the making, for example, dressmaker’s scissors
  4. You can add ‘value’ to your photo by using your own packaging and props
  5. Make use of what’s around you – try shooting in a forest or somewhere industrial

 

This book is available on Amazon .

 

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