Well hello there, it’s been a while! I hope you’re all keeping well and are looking forward to the Spring (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere that is!). Rather than spend time making excuses for my rather long gap from blogging (everything’s fine, it’s just been busy times) I thought I’d do a little update of what’s going on with Owlstation right now.
Aside from client work, which I’m glad to say is ticking over nicely, I’ve been focussing on building my new portfolio website. It’s so nearly there!! And it’s been quite the learning curve, creating and building it all myself on WordPress using Elementor. It has also taken TIME – lots of it. I must confess I am very eager for it to be finished so I can get back to working on new products for the Owlstation Store, developing my creative skills, personal projects and blogging here of course! I want to make drawings again and get lost in art. Hopefully I’m just a few bug fixes away, though it is hard to tell when you don’t really know what you’re doing!
I’ve managed a few outdoor drawing sessions recently, which I’ve been better at documenting on my Instagram page. I’ll try to upload some of those here soon, and am definitely hoping to do more in 2023. A piece of work I was especially pleased with recently, was my Forest Guardian illustration. You might remember that a while back that I’d shared some character sketches for ‘forest guardian’ concepts. My plan was to hone in on a character and then illustrate a forest to drop them into (so that they could guard it). I used Crayola felt tips, oil pastels and coloured pencils to sketch a forest inspired by the Japanese Island of Yakushima. An incredible primeval forest covered in moss.
I thought the bright colours would make this a good image to share for this Spring update post. As where I am, the flowers are starting to show their heads, the evenings are getting that bit lighter and it’s even warmed up a little. Any signs of Spring where you are? Or if you’re heading into Autumn perhaps you’re enjoying the first blaze of colours. Either way, it’s nice to be back with you again! 🙂
Revisiting one of my favourite design projects here to share a few images. A couple of years back, Storyteller and Photographer Nana Tomova asked me to design a logo that would represent her unique creative brand across her website, social media and to serve as a watermark for her stunning photography. Amongst her many talents, Nana takes incredible photographs of beautiful, wild landscapes and she wanted her logo to be evocative of nature and wildlife. Being a huge nature lover myself, this was a thoroughly enjoyable project for me!
There was plenty of scope for illustrative, inky, nature themed experimentation at the start of the project, which we later honed and narrowed down towards our final direction. I’m actually writing a case study of this project for my new website, so will save my longer ramblings for that and share it with you when it’s ready! For now, here are a few behind the scenes images from the project and the final logo design (top of post). Though Nana has since refocused her website on her Storytelling work, she still uses the logo on her new site, which I highly recommend visiting to learn more about her wonderful creative projects!
As things have been a little busy lately with client work and getting my new website prepped, I don’t have much in the way of new illustration work to share. So, I thought I’d revisit an old fave for this post! This is the piece I created for 2016’s ‘Secret 7’. The project invited creatives from all over the world to take part by designing a custom 7″ record sleeve. The sleeve design had to be inspired by one of seven songs chosen by the organisers and the only restriction was that it couldn’t feature the musicians name or the track title (hence the secret bit!). Successful entries were then printed along with the vinyl record and auctioned off for charity at the London exhibition.
I chose the Tame Impala track ‘The Less I know The Better’ for my piece. Though I wasn’t selected to be included in the show, I really enjoyed getting lost listening to the track and delving into my underwater theme! The song is pretty melancholy and dripping with rejection, so I liked the idea that this spurned lover was perhaps a water demon that had been banished to the watery depths, waiting ’10 years’ until they can return to their sweetheart and carving off each year on the rock as it passes. I used oil pastels, watercolour and pencil for this piece.
I still think it’s so cool that they found Endurance after all these years! Waiting, hidden under the ice, in the depths of Weddell Sea. The wreck was uncovered on the 5th of March 2022, which also happened to be the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s funeral! Apparently she’s in pretty good nick and looking much the same as she did in the final footage taken of her by Frank Hurley in 1915, just before she sank.
I’m fascinated by Antarctic exploration. Particularly so by Shackleton’s famous expedition which inspired my work for our Drawn Chorus Exhibition ‘There and Back Again’ in 2017 (you can check it out here on my website if you missed it!). I might have to revisit the Endurance in my illustrations once more, especially now she’s home to a variety of ethereal deep sea creatures that would be awesome to draw!
As she was found in Antarctic waters, there she will remain! The wreck is now a designated monument under the Antarctic treaty and cannot be disturbed or moved. The search was carried out by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, who used a South African Icebreaker ‘Agulhas II’ and submersible technology to discover Endurance. Her name and star are still clearly visible 107 years after she was lost. What an incredible find!
Video by ABC News shared here without permission. Illustration by Owlstation.
I’ve been wanting to do an Owlstation Giveaway for a while and recently reaching my first 100 sales on the Store felt like the perfect reason! Though it might sound like a small number to some, it means so much to me. I so appreciate your custom, support and encouragement of my work and wanted to take a moment to thank you properly…
Also, giveaways and getting post are fun right?! So one of you will be receiving: an A3 Adventure Kit print, an animated Magic Portal magnet, two cute greetings cards and four post cards. Whoop! This giveaway is open to everyone (as long as I can send it to you via Royal Mail).
To enter: In the comments write and tell me, if you could open a fantasy magic portal to anywhere – where would you go/open it to?
Pals on Instagram or Twitter, if you’re able to pop @Owlstation a visit or like there too, then that’s always appreciated (but not a requirement for entering!). You have until the 31st of March. I’ll pick my favourite answer and announce the winner on the 1st of April (but promise it won’t be an April Fool!). Good luck all!
I was having fun a little while back developing my ‘Forest Guardian’ mini project. There’s more that I want to do here, including working with the little blue forest guardian that you all helped me pick out over on Instagram…but here’s a little sneak peek for now from one of my test drawings. My main aim was to just be as expressive and playful as possible and just revel in drawing a forest.
In all honesty though, I’ve found it difficult to be in the mood to create over the last few weeks with everything that’s going on in the world. I find it tricky to engage with making when my heart is feeling heavy and things feel so uncertain. I know that’s the way of it sometimes though and it will come back when it’s ready and of course it’s no hardship. For now, I know it’s important to remember that there’s always hope, however small. Sending love and hope to you all in these strange and scary times x
I’m attempting to keep up a spot of weekly drawing practice in between my client work and building my new website (more on that escapade soon!). At the moment I’m focussing on practicing people, and in particular drawing faces. I’m growing more confident in sketching faces when working from reference material i.e drawing from Pinterest, as in the above illustration. The next step is to upgrade to being able to draw faces from my mind and to start bringing characters to life.
Though I have done some of this to date, I’d like to grow my confidence and get more of a grip on my style (which I sometimes feel is a bit scattergun!). Who are your favourite artists for character design or their style of drawing people? I’d love to know!
I still feel so lucky that we were able to go ahead with our ‘Words to Live By’ Exhibition back in November. After having to postpone twice due to the pandemic, it was so special to see my Drawn Chorus Collective friends again and mindblowing to see such awesome illustrations!
Everybody had such different interpretations of the theme and there was a beautiful mix of styles, colours and media. Adam managed to get a few snaps from the private view evening before we relaxed into arty natters, PV vino and a bit of shopping at the pop up store.
Here’s how my piece came together. When viewed in sequence, they form my personal Words to Live By: Visit the Mountains, Swim in the Sea, Frolic in the Forest, Get Home in Time for Tea!
I did go a bit crazy in the shop, but there were so many goodies! As things get a bit safer, I’d really like to get out to see more exhibitions. Seeing other’s artwork goes such a long way in inspiring me and firing me up to make more of my own. Being part of the collective is great for this too, being able to support and share with other creative people. We’ve not plotted our next project/show yet, but are meeting soon to discuss. I look forward to more Drawn Chorus adventures soon 🙂
All photographs taken by Adam Clague aka Alekadzie
Finally, number four of the four illustrations I created for the Words to Live By exhibition ‘Get Home In Time For Tea’. The sentiment here being that after your day of adventuring, it’s important to wend your way back to your cosy Hobbit hole or campfire to enjoy a hot brew…and that it will taste all the more delicious after the fresh air and fun you’ve enjoyed on your escapades to the mountains, sea and forest.
It’s a concept I’d like to play around a bit more with in future illustrations. I really love the connection between nature and the outdoors and how it feels when you settle down to a cup of tea after being outside. Or indeed having a tea whilst out in nature. The comfort from the warmth of the cup and how it restores and revives you. Biscuits or cake to be included in this ritual whenever possible of course.
In the next post I’ll share the final, framed piece and a few snaps from the show itself before we move on to talk about some other things. In the meantime, get that kettle on! 🙂
I haven’t had too much forest time lately but will aim to put that right in February. There’s something very vital about getting out under the trees, jumping over logs and generally frolicking about like an excitable fool in the woods. This is the third of four illustrations I created for the Drawn Chorus ‘Words to Live By’ show (do check out my previous posts if you missed the first and second!).
I hadn’t left myself much time to create my submissions for the show and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make something I was happy with before the deadline. I have a tendency to move very slowly and be a bit of a perfectionist when creating personal work if left to my own devices.
So this show actually proved to be a really good challenge for me as I had to just let go and keep moving in order to get the work done. And as it goes, I was pretty happy with what I produced. Sometimes ‘done’ is much better than ‘perfect’ and can get you further and more quickly than obsessing over details and re-hashing things that already work. Something for me to remember for the next show and coming projects anyway!