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’ve been drawing figurines from ancient civilisations for an experimental personal project this afternoon. Which do you think would make a good ‘Forest Guardian’ from the line up below? I personally quite like the little blue fellow, but let me know what you think in the comments…and Happy Friday! 🙂
I find that the most interesting (and arguably most enjoyable) part of my creative process, happens quite near to the start of the project. I love this beginning phase, where everything is still up for grabs and experimentation is key. I begin by jotting down key words, ideas and phrases that come to mind, nothing is too outlandish or out of scope at this point.
Next, I start to research. I look for reference imagery that gets me excited, photos, books, magazines (probably a bit too much Pinterest!) and pull these elements together. Looking for patterns or quirks that I could work into a final piece.
Then I begin to sketch from these. Light pencil drawings and thumbnail compositions but also plenty of ‘tests’ illustrations. In these tests, I try to capture the essence of the idea I’m pushing. Work out what the atmosphere or feeling is that I’m trying to get across. I work quickly and try out various media to see what feels right for a particular project.
Of course I enjoy settling into creating the final artwork too and other parts of the creative process – but there’s something about this fizzy, excited, experimental phase at the start that is so inspiring and addictive!
I’m currently working through some of Andy J Pizza’s ‘Peptober’ social media prompts. To learn more about these, check out Andy’s podcast and have a look back through my recent posts. This post is my response to prompt 5; share what you think is the most interesting part of your process.
Continuing on with Andy J Pizza’s ‘Peptober’ prompts (I know I’m technically into Pepvember now but let’s not worry about that!)…#4 is to share two pieces of work that you feel are closely related to each other. I had a mull through my sketchbooks and landed on these two pieces. Here’s why I feel that they are related…
Both illustrations are practice pieces drawn from interesting imagery I’ve found and collected when traipsing the internet. If I find myself with a spare couple of hours in my freelance downtime and with no larger goal/ongoing project to complete, I’ll sometimes settle down in front of Pinterest, get some drawing materials out and have a play.
The first image is of a small figure beneath a garden of towering cacti (love me some giant cacti). The photo that I used as reference had a vintage tint to it that gave the colours a lovely softness and gave the image that feeling of instant nostalgia. The second drawing is of a cosy cabin in a forest clearing, smoke billowing from the chimney.
Though the imagery is quite different, I feel both pictures have a nice looseness to them that sometimes I struggle to capture when working on more structured projects. Something to do with not having the pressure of a deadline or an audience when working in this way I think! Both use a combination of watercolour and conte crayons that came together in a similar way for both pieces. I felt I was able to lay down large, rough areas of colour, but still achieve interesting textures and areas of sharper detail. On a more obvious level, they are both quite narrow, drawn on A3 paper and in portrait orientation.
I like these two pieces, because I felt that I learned something about my style through creating them. Not a big revelation that I can put into words, but more like another little puzzle piece in my long term illustration journey.
Continuing with Andy J Pizza’s ‘Peptober’ prompts (see my previous post!) his second prompt was to share something that represents how I’m feeling right now. I had a little think about this and decide to share this photo from my Canadian adventure back in 2017.
I’ve really been missing foreign travel this year! But have been fondly remembering the trips that I have been lucky enough to go on in recent times. Particularly, I’ve been thinking about the feeling of being tiny in a vast, open landscape. Of having a view uninterrupted by buildings or man made structures and being able to see off far into the distance. Of how it can feel humbling, thrilling and kind of scary all at once!
Having recently moved out of London and back to my old hometown by the sea, I am very glad to be getting a dose of this by visiting the beach and looking out. Still, fingers crossed for more big adventures in 2022 and hoping to take my sketchbook too!
Last year, just before the first lockdown began, I enjoyed a very special day out. My lovely friends had given me the gift of an ‘Owl Experience’ for my 30th birthday. The chance to meet, draw and learn about the beautiful owls of Knockhatch Sanctuary. So on a very chilly January morning, Adam and I set out on our Owl Adventure.
The two friendly and knowledgable owl Keepers met us at the park entrance and took us to their office; a cosy cabin stocked up with owl supplies. Frozen mice dinners, leather gauntlets, weighing scales, tools, feeding schedules and muddy boots. From then on in, we accompanied them in their daily owl care routine, picking up plenty of owl facts as the day went on.
First we were introduced to Pingu, a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. We were very lucky to be allowed to hold him. He had very large talons and intricate peppery, grey feathers (we would get to draw him later!).
Next we met Blizzard the Snowy Owl and joined in with his exercise session. He was building up his flying confidence so was a little shaky in the air, but easily encouraged when a few morsels were offered up. He was spectacularly beautiful. His thick layer of feathers were the purest white. We learned from the keepers that snowy owls build their nests on the ground in the barren Arctic to which they are native.
After Blizzard’s flying session, we went back to the cabin to warm up and to say hello to Mufasa the White Faced Scops Owl. The Keepers encouraged us to gently stroke the feathers on his chest. He nibbled my fingers while I did so and kept me company while they checked the Winter weights of some of the birds to ensure they were healthy for the time of year.
Warmed up, we went back outside to exercise Steel the Siberian Eagle Owl. She was absolutely enormous, it was awesome to see her in flight, if not a little scary when she was flying towards you. I would not want to get on the wrong side of an Eagle Owl! We also met one of the Keeper’s favourite birds, the Great Grey Owl, with whom he had developed a special bond.
She was very affectionate and keen to be snuggled up to him which was lovely to see. However the Keepers reminded us that owls are wild creatures and always to be treated with the upmost respect. They should never be approached in the wild as they do not seek human interference. The owls at Knockhatch sanctuary are cared for very carefully and encouraged to behave as they would in the wild.
As an illustrator who loves drawing owls, being able to see these birds in flight, up close was invaluable. It gave me a greater understanding for how their wings work and the very particular movements of their heads and bodies. With the hands on part of the experience complete, Adam and I returned to the indoor sanctuary for a sketchbook session. We both got so much out of it and left with drawings of the Asian Brown Wood Owl, Steel the Siberian Eagle Owl, Blizzard the Snowy Owl, Pingu Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, a Spectacled Owl, African Spotted Eagle Owl and finally – Julie, the very noisy Kookaburra (who is of course not an owl!)
Aside from the drawings we made, Adam took fantastic photos and videos (used in this post), that I know will prove very useful for future sketching reference. I felt very lucky to have spent time with these spectacular predators and grateful for our time with the Knockhatch Keepers who look after their owls with great care, love and respect. Finally a huge thank you and shout out to my friends – the very creatively talented Amber, Fred and Summer. This was a very special present that I will never forget!
All photos by Alekadzie. Apologies If I have misremembered the exact names and gender’s of some of these Owls. I think I have recorded each species accurately, though you’ll forgive me if a year of pandemic has slightly muddled my memory of the day!
I was just having a sketchbook sort this morning, when I came across this little number…I think I would quite like to be snuggled up underneath a giant protective chicken right now! In these difficult times, I find that I get a great amount of pleasure from pictures and GIFS of animals, friend’s newborn babies and generally anything cute and cuddly. So I thought I’d share this in case you need a dose of that too! Watercolour and 8b pencil on recycled paper.
This morning, I took a little time out from my planned work to draw some owls in my sketchbook. I’d been feeling the need for a little creative playtime for a while and finally decided to give into the urge for a few hours. I put on a podcast, grabbed a cuppa and just allowed myself to play. It was honestly so restorative and I’ll definitely be carving out some more time for this soon!
In my pursuit for drawing reference material, I came across this BBC Earth video ‘How Does An Owl Fly So Silently?’ and thought I’d share it with you. Apparently it’s to do with their large wings and small body, but the clip explains much better than I can! Barn Owls are such elegant, ethereal creatures, enjoy!
What’s been capturing your imagination lately? If you’ve got any recommendations for me, I’d love to know in the comments below.
Note: For the keen eyed among you, the second drawing is actually of a Short Eared Owl…Just wanted to share him in this owl post too!
In between client projects (and trying to soak up us much of the Summer as possible) I’ve started work on the next range of products for the Owlstation Store. There’s still a lot to do, but I wanted to give you a little glimpse of some of the development work that’s been going on. Without giving too much away at this point…I’ve been practicing drawing lots of cabins!
Inspired in part by the awesome book Cabin Porn which features gorgeous, enchanting cabins from all over the world. But also by the idea of escaping somewhere secret, cosy and a little bit magical. My initial scribbled ideas, rough sketches and early thumbnails have started to come together and the new products are taking shape. I’ll be excited to share more soon, but for now here are a few more of those cabin experiments.
My brother Mikey and I have teamed forces again to create ‘The Last Expedition’ a text adventure game set in a frozen, dystopian future. Well, Mikey built it, wrote the story and composed the music for it, I just created the background art! It’s a work in progress (so a few bugs and unfinished sections) but I was excited to share how it’s come together…
Inspired in part by the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard and Arctic exploration, the story asks you to follow in the footsteps of a young, female explorer who has ventured onto the frozen wastes in hope of finding the now mythical landmark. As the adventure unfolds you are presented with choices about which icy paths to take, faced with decisions to make camp or push on risking frostbite and given the opportunity to investigate long forgotten structures.
Created during lockdown for Mikey’s final University project, it brought us closer together at a time when geographically we were quite far apart.Looking back at that time now, I realise just how special it was. We checked in on Skype every morning to discuss next steps for his compositions or coding. Briefly catching up on the news before checking our schedules and planning his deadlines. It gave me structure and emotional support in the midst of all that fear and uncertainty. Plus it was the most time we’d spent ‘together’ in years.
Though the game is a work in progress that we would both like to develop further – I’m very proud of what we achieved so far. You can listen to the entire soundtrack on Mikey’s Soundcloud page too, but here’s a taster from the Archive Facility…