My Happy Place

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Lately I’ve been massively enjoying pairing podcasts with a creative session. I find that listening to intimate conversations or unusual stories whilst drawing, allows me to relax and let go. Keeping the critical, negative part of my brain distracted for long enough to make a breakthrough!

A particularly good podcast for this is Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place. Listening to Fearne and her friends (some well known, others not) discuss what makes them happy, how they look after themselves and face the world, is perfect for getting me into my happy place! It’s honest and positive and If you’re going to check it out, I’d recommend starting with the Dawn French episode.

The Adam Buxton Podcast

Another standby favourite is The Adam Buxton Podcast. This one’s especially good for a boost on one of those overly critical drawing days. His endlessly impressive list of cool guests include Wes Anderson, Greta Gerwig and Bob Mortimer. He’s adept at getting people to open up and discuss more unusual subjects, such as Charlie Brooker’s bathroom phobias. The interlude songs are also, quite brilliant!

I’ll keep on the hunt for more podcasts to entertain, distract and delight. Please let me know if you have any go-to favourites or new discoveries as I’d love to check them out!

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Park Drawing

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My goodness, Summer has jumped over the top of Spring and suddenly landed! What a glorious bank holiday weekend we’ve just had. I love to draw outside, and the long, cold Winter we’ve had has really made that difficult – sketching with gloves on just doesn’t work.

We set up camp in Alexandra Park, armed with picnic blanket, reading material (Moominpappa at Sea), ice cream and chilled tins of pop. Being pale, English types we had a generous layer of sun cream applied. We stayed until the shadows grew long and I enjoyed exploring and pushing the vibrant colours I saw in the foliage with my bright, Crayola felt tips. More sessions like this please!

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Owl Cat

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A rare sighting of an Owl Cat. Part owl – part cat, it dwells in trees, curls up in the sun and stares regally down at lesser species…I’ve been enjoying experimenting with Indian Ink in my sketchbook lately! You can get a variety of shades from mixing the ink with water. Using a range of brushes can create very different textures too.

Tove Jansson & the Creative Process

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As a long time fan of Tove Jansson’s illustrations, seeing the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery before it closed was a big treat. Though the Moomins took centre stage, there was an excellent variety of her work on display.

Watercolours and drawings from Tove’s illustrated versions of Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. Large oil-painted self portraits and abstracts. Also a selection of her political cartoons and magazine covers, some of which were created during the Second World War. There was even a series of models, like this one of Snufkin (below) that I took the opportunity to sketch!

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However, what I enjoyed most about this exhibition was the touch of insight it gave me into Tove’s creative process. Evidence of pencil lines not quite rubbed out underneath delicate ink work. Some barely perceptible tippex-like corrections on typography. Roughs and layout sketches shown next to final versions. I noticed that a few of the watercolours had sections which appear to have been carefully cut out, perhaps by scalpel, and removed or replaced with a new layer of card fixed precisely in place over the top.

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It was very heartening to see these little human touches and imagine that even my illustration heroes made/make changes and tweaks to improve their work. That things don’t always come out perfectly first time and that there are many different ways to create. It’s all part of the process and one that we don’t always get to see – especially in today’s slick, Photoshop world.

I love it when illustrators share what goes on behind the scenes and how they make their work. I’ll be sure to share more of my creative process this year too!

The above Tove Jansson Illustration from Alice In Wonderland is used here without permission via Pinterest. 

Happy Christmas!

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Happy Christmas everyone! Wishing you a lovely festive break and chilled end to the year. Here’s a quick little sketch from our bracing walk on Ovingdean beach earlier today. I’m looking forward to more drawing challenges and adventures in 2018 – I’d love to hear about your creative resolutions if you have some. Until January 🤗🎄

Advent Countdown

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This year I’ve had a paper advent calendar instead of a chocolate one and I’ve really enjoyed it. My Winter Woodland advent calendar by illustrator Angela Harding is very satisfying. There’s a wide variety of wildlife, big and small – birds, stags, badgers, foxes and a healthy dose of owls!

The blue and white shades of the snow are set off by the reds of the berries and fur of the animals. The warm glow from the house in the distance stops it from feeling too chilly.

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I love the linocut style and the flowing composition which draws the eye around the scene. The numbers on the little doors are quite tricky to pick out, so sometimes it takes a while to find the right one but it’s well worth it when you’re rewarded with a miniature deer or leaping greyhound.

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A spell of pre-Xmas work in Brighton has drawn me away from my advent calendar – but it will be nice to discover all the other doors in January when I return to London and eek out the festivities a bit longer!

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Brian

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This week I’m cat sitting Brian. We’ve hung out a few times now and it’s always a pleasure spending time with him. While I get on with my work in the day, he’s usually curled up tightly on the sofa. He’ll occasionally pop over to say hello, climb over my Macbook a few times and sit on my lap for a bit, kneading me with his claws.

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Like most cats, he goes a bit hyper in the evening before bed time. Launching himself into the air, skidding through rooms or climbing up my legs while I’m cooking. On this visit I’ve decided to try and sketch him during some of his quieter moments. He’s so dark and fuzzy that sometimes when his eyes are closed he just blends into one big fluff-ball and it’s tricky to pick out any features! It’s been good practice though, trying to quickly get his form down before he shifts position and nice for me to have some cat company.

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