Wednesday, January 28, 2015

this week I be mostly using


 A little while back, probably through one of my poorer periods (one of my even more poorer periods), I decided that I would not buy any more pens until I'd used some of the many thousands that I already have. Well, okay, so yes, I have bought more - but just the black, brown and blue fine liners I use a lot of - but for the most part I have kept to that self imposed challenge.
The best thing about it is that it's making me use things I wouldn't normally choose to use. You know, the stuff that isn't the black, brown and blue fine liners. I've used lots more colour felt pens, markers and other stuff I can't think of right now. Things, when  bought, I thought I'd use all the time. They'd push me in new directions, etc. Then they sat in pencil cases and pots and on shelves and I never touched again.
Many moons ago, way before I'd taken up drawing, I got these fountain pens. I went to the Artist & Illustrators fair in London and was talked into spending a huge amount of money on these Pilot Parallel pens and a load of coloured inks. I thought I'd use them for calligraphy. Then I put them in a pencil case and didn't even look at them for a decade.
Now, I've always been a big fountain pen fan. Somewhere in this house I have a box full of old-school fountain pens, inks and nibs. I have always loved playing around with my handwriting and there's nothing better than a fountain pen for that. So rediscovering these modern fountain pens and the variety of lines they make has been a joy.
 And, what's more, it has pushed me. Next time you have a craving for a new pen why not have a dig around in your drawers (!!!) and see what you can find. I really love the results and the marks I've been making with these. Next stop is those scratchy old fountain pens that are lurking around just waiting for me to dig them out.
 So, hands up, who's gone and ordered the Pilot Parallel pen now? That wasn't the point of this post, remember?!
 
And, by the way, these little Toulouse Lautrec inspired drawings are up for sale dirt cheap. Yes, I'm going through one of my even more poorer periods again. get them HERE.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

the silence of a falling star and other juicy quotes

Day Four of the post three drawings for five days challenge. Yes, it's taking longer than five days. Way longer.
Today, I chose these three drawings because they are all linked. Obviously, they are, but I thought I'd expand on how they are linked. And, how I work sometimes. So yes, of course, I've worked with the same palette here. Incidentally, blues and browns are my favourite colour combination. I just think they work so beautifully together. They also work great with the cream Moleskine paper which is the sketchbook I worked in here.
I often have a few sketchbooks on the go. Quite a few in fact. A lot are Moleskine, but not all. These days I'll draw on anything and everything. The top page is from what I call a 'spare sketchbook'. It's the kind of book that doesn't have a specific theme, it's just somewhere where I dump all of my thoughts, play around with images and compositions, practice my handwriting, file all those lovely juicy quotes and lyrics - that I happen upon - for future reference and make lists. Lots of lists. I love these kind of books. Everyone should have this sort of sketchbook. I can guarantee if I look through this book (this one is about seven years old now) I am reminded of and inspired by all sorts of things I'd forgotten.
At one time, when I was going through a drawing funk (they don't happen anymore by the way) and whining about it on my blog I was offered a piece of advice that I've never forgotten. I remember who gave me the advice too. It was Felicity Graces who some of you may know - although she doesn't draw, or at least, post her drawings anywhere near enough these days. Anyway, where as other people had been telling me to look through the work of my favourite artists or contemporaries, Felicity said definitely do not do that but look back through my own back catalogue of work. It was good advice. That's where you reconnect with what you love to do and the things you love to draw and why you love to draw.
So, that's why I recommend having a 'spare sketchbook'. You'll find so much in there too relight your fire. And, so to these drawings. Both of the two (bottom) drawings came about from developing themes I played around with in the top spread. By taking the notes and ideas and pushing and pulling them in all directions.

And, another thing, the envelope spread is what can happen when something goes wrong on a page; collage. The best way to cover all of your mistakes.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

just a little green

These are my Day Three sketches of the Post Three Sketches in Five Days challenge.

Today I chatted with Koosje Koene, one of the founder members of Sketchbook Skool, on Skype, and we caught up on all sorts of things that had been happening, for both of us, since I went to Amsterdam last year to film my classes for Sketchbook Skool with her. It was good to talk. You know when just chatting with another person who has the same interests and passions as yourself can give you a boost? It can be uplifting and, well, the conversation left me feeling all inspired. So, it felt fitting to post these three sketches, that I made whilst I was there, in Amsterdam with Koosje, today.

If you are unaware of Sketchbook Skool (is there anyone who hasn't heard about it yet?), well, it's this online school where all the tutors are sketchbook artists from around the world. An eclectic mix of tutors who are pretty much obsessed with creating sketchbooks. In fact, there's no pretty much about it, they're totally obsessed with creating sketchbooks. And, that includes me! Yes, I'm one of the tutors on the 'Seeing' course which starts on Friday. Still time to sign up. You can do that, and find out more, HERE.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

let's dance

Jiving
These were my three sketches for the second day of the post-three-sketches-for-five-days challenge. I went from three girls drawing, in my last post, to three girls dancing. I love this idea of drawing people whilst they are indulging in their own passion. Whatever that may be. That can only add another layer of richness to the work I think. Richness? Not the word I'm looking for, but it's late. And, I'm not so good with words. That's why draw.
Burlesque
You can find opportunities to draw people, doing their thing, here there and everywhere. I drew these three ladies at various events and places. In the last few months I've drawn a local choir, orchestra, band, knitters, drinkers. If you're brave enough (and I know it's not easy) just find out where people are meeting or rehearsing and ask if they mind you coming along and sitting quietly in a corner scribbling away. If it helps take a fellow sketcher or two.
Mexican
Last year I drew the TED Talks event in Manchester. That was a great day. It was a gig I got just through asking the organisers if I could do it. I got to listen to inspiring speakers whilst sketching them. I made a big A2 drawing, over the course of the day, of the 25 different speakers. I also stole a quote from each of them and worked them in amongst the sketches. Pretty much everyday I see that drawing (it's lay on top of my scanner as I haven't found anywhere to put it -with it being that big). One of the quotes that I borrowed was "life begins where your comfort zone ends". It's a great quote. And an even better idea.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

girls drawing

Nat drawing in London
So, I've been nominated to do this post-three-drawings-a-day-for-five-days thing that's going around Facebook at the moment. Have you come across it? I'm not sure if it's just on Facebook, perhaps it's doing the rounds on the blogs too? I think it's quite a fitting that at this time, with recent horrific events in Paris, that our screens and social networking are being filled with illustrations and drawings by people who love illustration and drawing.
 Kate drawing in Sheffield
So, I was nominated by Katherine Tyrrell. I'm sure many of you will know her blog Making A Mark. If you don't you really should check it out. It's ridiculously informative, on all sorts of topics for artists and people making their way in the industry. I've learnt so much from it. Katherine also has a new book out and a few of my illustrations feature in it. The book is called 365 Tips for Drawing and Sketching, you can read more about it HERE.
Miriam drawing in Buxton
 Anyway, the three drawings above are my sketches for the first day of the challenge. It seemed apt to start with sketches of people sketching. Plus, I seem to have been doing an awful lot of that recently. This little sketch of Miriam, above, is one of my own personal favourite sketches. I'm particularly pleased that I did it with such few lines, without over working it, as I often do. Plus, I managed a real likeness - which is hard to do. But then, you wouldn't be able to tell that if you don't know Miriam.

But hey, while I'm at it, whilst I'm posting sketches of people sketching, I might as well include these two, below, that I made last weekend. They are from a sketchcrawl I attended, in Stockport, on Saturday. Emily was our youngest sketchcrawler at 7 years old.
 Emily drawing in pink
Here's the thing about sketching with other people; you can learn something new from each and every one. No matter what their ability or level and no matter what their age. From Emily I learnt about the two pencil technique. Or, at least, she helped me remember it. I always did stuff like that when I was a kid. And, now I've been reminded of it, I'll be using it as a big kid too.
Emily drawing in blue

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

back in the old folky days

Happy New Year folks!
As I said in a previous post, I've been making some changes to my business (and life) recently. Some leaps of faith. Which all ties in nicely with the New Year and new leaf/chapter/beginning.
Here's something I've never tried before; bespoke, made to order original drawings. Not just bespoke drawings, but, bespoke pet portraits (and that's something I never thought I'd hear myself saying). They are, of course, pet portraits with a difference. They are kind of like drawings of your pet's ancestors. With a little imagined (by me) biography of said pet ancestor.
 
Where and how the hell do I come up with these ideas?
Anyway, you can get a bespoke, Victorian, made to order, portrait of YOUR pet HERE!
No, really.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas....

...if that's your thing.
If it isn't, well, here's a moose.
And a pear.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

i drew my friends shoe

Here's a couple of drawings that I made back in the day. When my eyes could see better.
The top one was made with a ballpoint pen and the bottom one with colour pencil.
I'm pretty proud of both of these actually.
There's a little collection of my shoe drawings (if you'd like to peruse) HERE.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

brass monkeys on high street

As I was whinging about, in my previous post, these days I just seem to be drawing on-the-go. Stood in a café or on a street corner.
Which has also had an effect on the pens I've been using.
When you need to get the information down on the page quickly (it's been very cold here) the fine nibbed pens I would have normally used are just not going to cut it.
I'm actually really enjoying using markers. Plus, more recently, my eyes have been paying the price for years of obsessively drawing tiny things.
So, using markers actually mean I can actually see what I'm actually drawing. Plus, they help get drawings down on the page very quickly. As, I said it's been very cold.
Exhibit A....

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

you should draw me

I feel like I haven't sat down and actually created a 'proper' drawing, or worked on a project, in ages. Life, and making a living, has got in the way of that.
Not that I've stopped drawing, I've never drawn as much. And, I'm loving drawing in a different, faster way. I do long, though, to just sit for an entire afternoon or weekend, week even, and just work on a big mega drawing. The kind of thing I can get lost in.
 But, I need to capitalise on this time of year. That's the reality, right now. I've finally just begun, after a couple of years of real hardship, to see the wood for the trees and to really start thinking like, and seeing myself as, a professional artist/illustrator. Whatever that is.
 And, now, I've forced myself into a situation where I have to make money from this. Which is a good thing. A scary thing, but a good thing.
Before I was just selling online to top up my wage, now my wage tops up my selling online. The balance has shifted. And, I'm no longer just selling online, recently I've been selling offline too.
All of these drawings were made over two days, and two art fairs, last weekend. I've come to realise that I need to sell myself in lots more ways (not like that), to keep a roof over my head.
It's not easy to see your work in those terms; as a saleable product. Well, at least, I don't find it easy. But that is the reality of it.
It's been a long time coming too. I've been talking about it for way too long; taking steps to turn professional. And, it hasn't been the greatest of timing, on my part, in this recent financial climate. But, there's something about the struggle that makes it even more 'rewarding' (that's not the right word, or not the word I'm looking for, but it's late at night and I'm tired).
So, I've been getting my work out there, and, actually, even if it still feels uncomfortable selling me, I couldn't love sharing and talking about my work more. 
I'm constantly amazed anyone wants to know.
My plan for 2015 is to get better at all that stuff. The presenting of my work, that is. I've had a practice run this year, but I want to make my 'show' bigger and better. I want it to be a visual treat, to compliment my sketchbooks.
I want to make lots more lovely creative products that show off my drawings. And, I want to get out there, further afield, and meet and share them with more people.
And, I want more adventures. So that when I finally get back home,
to sit and draw, I'll bring all that I've learnt and seen back to my work. And make it richer than ever.
Looking forward to the New Year already.
I had no idea where this post was going when I started it. Absolutely none. I'm glad it ended on such a positive note. I think I've inspired myself!

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