I’ve been working on a bird inspired personal project, on and off, for a couple of years now. It started with a visit to the Barbican to see ‘Magnificent Obsessions’. An excellent exhibition displaying the private (and in some cases bizarre) collections of famous artists, including Andy Warhol’s cookie jars and Peter Blake’s Edwardian dolls and puppets.
I enjoyed drawing Damien Hirst’s taxidermy birds. Trapped in a glass bell jar, they caught my imagination and an idea for a book cover project slowly developed. Through this personal work i’ve been able to explore digital colouring, hand drawn typography, composition and print – though as is often the way, it’s had to take a back seat to other projects when life has been busy.
However, I’m now on the home stretch! I’ve been making final adjustments this week as well as having fun with some more digital colouring/ bird experiments which I thought I’d share. If you have any personal projects or side hustles that your excited about this year, I’d love to hear about them!
Photograph of Taxidermy birds used here without permission.
All other images are my own.
I’m currently enjoying Glen Baxter’s Blizzards of Tweed, a fabulous collection of whimsy and nonsense!
I was lucky enough to receive my copy as part of a work-place Secret Santa (a rare occurrence when freelancing!). It must be the best one I’ve ever received and I felt pretty guilty for giving a standard chocolates and sweeties combo when I unwrapped it.
Baxter’s wonderfully ridiculous humour and embracing of the absurd aside – it really is a beauty to behold. The first part of the book is made up of elegant line drawings, then towards the middle he uses layers of coloured pencil to great effect.
I find it can be difficult to do this well as sometimes the colours can turn muddy or the texture refuses to build up evenly, but he’s clearly mastered this.
I love that at first glance, any one of his sketches feels like it could be a legitimate illustration from a classic children’s book and it’s not until you look more closely that you can spot the oddities and weirdness of his storytelling. Lots of owls to enjoy too!
It’s 2018 and I’m actually quite excited for January. Though I love Christmas, the festive cosyness, sparkly lights, delicious food and drink, by New Year’s Eve I’m usually feeling ready to get back to normal. To try and eat a bit healthier, venture outside and asses my goals and plans for the new year. January also signals the approach back towards my preferred time of year…with more light in the evenings and (hopefully) warmer weather on the way!
As January can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming with resolutions and laying plans, I thought I’d share a couple of things that I find helpful and inspiring for getting back to it – Especially as a freelancer.
Yoga With Adrienne
Every January, YouTube yoga teacher Adriene releases a new ’30 Days of Yoga’ challenge. I’m no yoga expert but the videos are easy to follow and pretty accessible to everyone. I find that concentrating on breath, moving the body and stretching make me feel so much better and are a really good way to start the day. I’ve never managed to do the challenge on consecutive days, but I don’t think that matters!
It doesn’t have to be a long hike in the countryside (though that’s definitely a bonus when available!). A 10 or even 5 minute walk around the block on my lunch break always lifts my mood. It can be especially difficult to motivate myself to do this when it’s chilly or a rainy day. But a brisk walk seems to wake me up, give my brain a break and make me more productive in the afternoon.
Putting pen to paper to note down how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking about is a useful way to clear the head and help order priorities. I grab a biro, whatever notebook is lying about (usually some nice new ones post Xmas!) and just jot down whatever pops into my head. Sometimes this can turn into a bit of a ramble, but the act of writing down my thoughts, just for me, always gives me a sense that I have a plan, or at least the start of one.
So there you have it, my January rituals! I’d love to hear about any techniques or ideas you have in place for to kick start your 2018. Happy New Year!
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 🤗🎄
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Unity game engine
This year i’ve started learning to use Unity; a free, creative engine that is capable of making all kinds of games and interactive experiences. Initially I wanted to learn it as a gateway to making things for Virtual Reality. I’m still planning to do that, but realising I was trying to gallop before I could walk, I slowed things down and set myself a personal project of creating my own 2D game.
As a freelance designer (by day!) I’ve worked on many games over the years and have even used Unity in some projects to assist developers with simple tasks – but I’ve never attempted to create an entire game myself. When I found this handily titled ‘2D Games for Non-Programmers’ tutorial I decided to get involved and see what I could learn.
A spot of mood boarding
It’s going well so far and after an initial spot of mood boarding and research, I’ve settled on the title ‘A Witch’s Garden’ and started sketching enemies, collectable items and logo ideas for my ethereal concept. It’s going to be a long journey to creating for virtual reality and I’ll have to remind myself to be patient, but i’m already excited and absorbed by my mini project and will keep sharing my progress until it’s ready to play.