In case you missed it…

owlstation_shackleton final_endurance

For anyone that couldn’t make it along to ‘There & Back Again’ the exploration themed exhibition I took part in this Summer – you can now see my illustrations and listen to the audio installation on my website.

I so enjoyed taking part in the show and got completely obsessed researching my chosen subject matter! I created four illustrations that explored key points of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Endurance expedition. From the ship becoming stuck in the Antarctic ice pack, to the men marching across the floes in attempt to reach safety.

owlstation_shackleton final_ocean camp

As I was reading Shackleton’s journal ‘South’, I became so struck with how eloquently he described their perilous journey and incredible surroundings that I wanted to find a way to share his words.

With the help of my brilliant actor friend, Pip Donaghy and talented composer brother, Mikey Parsons, we created an audio installation that allowed visitors to the gallery to hear parts of Shackleton’s adventure whilst viewing the illustrations (these can be found by scrolling down the project page on my website).

exhibition photo

I learned a lot in preparing for this exhibition and there are a few things I will definitely do differently next time, namely:

Order my frames well in advance of the show in case they are all smashed up when they arrive and I freak out and have to make a last minute trip to a nearby glazier to replace the glass.

But I picked up things that were really helpful too, such as not being afraid to ask your printer for advice and that creating geeky mockups of how your pictures will look when hung on the gallery wall is actually pretty handy!

All in all, I’m really chuffed with how this exhibition turned out and had great fun taking part alongside such talented and lovely artists. I still have a few prints available from the show, so do get in touch if you see something you like or have any questions. Massive thanks if you made it along and i’ll look forward to seeing you at the next one!

 

Icebergs

owlstation_icebergs_2017

Whilst working on the research phase for the upcoming ‘There & Back Again’ exhibition, I became completely absorbed by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Journal and the Endurance expedition of 1914.

As a result there has been much drawing of icebergs amongst other things! Here are a few sketches I made in oil pastels and pencil.

SaveSave

Exhibition Time

there and back again_exhibtion flyer

*Exciting news* I now have the pleasure of inviting you to ‘There & Back Again: an explorative illustration exhibition’! Curated by the wonderful Drawn Chorus Collective and featuring the work of 30 artists, this is going to be a really good one!!!

It’s running from the 29th of August to the 3rd of September at Espacio Gallery in Bethnal Green with the private view taking place on the 31st. Do come along, bring your friends, kids and Victorian safari hat and give your eyeballs a treat!

Over the next few weeks i’ll be putting the finishing touches to my own work for the show, so watch this space for updates!

Research

owlstation_research sketches_1_2017

I love kicking off a new project and delving into the research phase! I’m starting to explore my ideas for The Drawn Chorus Summer show and things are taking a bit of an Arctic turn (there’s a bird pun there if you want it!).

owlstation_research sketches_2_2017

I’m still experimenting for now. I like to make lots of quick sketches and tests working from reference images and also read up on subjects and find inspiring magazines and internet articles. Next i’ll try to narrow my ideas down and think about composition.

Coaster Love

owlstation blogpost_2017_coasters_1

I’ve realised I’ve started to develop something of a coaster habit. A current count put me at 15 which I reckon qualifies as the start of a collection. When I see a good design, I can’t help myself! I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you…

owlstation blogpost_2017_coasters_4

I think the recent rise in illustrated beer and ale packaging is partly responsible for the increase of quality coasters bearing the same designs. Such as Beavertown Brewery’s eyeball popping artwork.

owlstation blogpost_2017_coasters_2

I love my Adventure Time coaster pack, a Christmas present from my Brother. As you can see from the photo at the top – the Ice King in particular has seen a lot of use.

Paper and card coasters have a wonderful tactility to them. The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club coaster has a nice vintage feel to it and the pastel colours of the Brockwell Lido Cafe coaster are very pleasing.

owlstation blogpost_2017_coasters_7owlstation blogpost_2017_coasters_6

The owls were a charity shop gift from a friend and ‘Pivovar Trautenberk’ travelled back from the Czech Republic with me after a holiday beverage. If you see any good ones this Summer, please do grab a spare for me!

owlstation blogpost_2017_coasters_3owlstation blogpost_2017_coasters_5

Blossom Trees

owlstation_blossom photo_3

There are so many blossom trees in Clapham. I think nearly every street has at least one but most boast an impressive collection. There’s a variety of sizes, shapes and colours and for the next few weeks of Spring we’ll be able to enjoy them all. Soft pinks, vanillas, whites and creams with little specks of green leaves. They contrast against their dark branches and light up when viewed against a bright Spring sky. At night, they loom out of the dark like Christmas decorations that haven’t been taken down yet.

Sometimes I find that painting or drawing things that are naturally very pretty to begin with, such as flowers, can produce results that are a bit twee and boring. I made a quick Google search to see if I could find some blossom inspired artwork that managed to avoid this.

Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Almond Blossom’ (1890, shown below) are beautiful but still have a wildness to them. The branches are crooked and spiky. The flowers are delicate but they belong in nature, not to be put in a vase on a mantelpiece.

vangoghmuseum-s0176V1962-1920

I’m not overly familiar with the work of husband-and-wife illustration team Kozyndan but their bunny themed work is super popular and hard to miss. In Bunny Blossoms (2005, shown below), instead of flowers, tiny pink rabbits bloom from the branches. Apart from the fact that they are HELLA cute, they bring something unexpected and humorous to the piece which references traditional Japanese blossom artwork.

_Kozyndan_bunny_blossom_0

Hanami, which translates as ‘flower viewing’, is the Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers (thanks Wikipedia!). From March to May the Sakura trees blossom all over Japan and people celebrate with outdoor parties, sometimes decorating the trees with paper lanterns.

‘Chiyoda Ooku Ohanami’ by Toyohara Chikanobu translates as ‘Cherry Blossoms Party at the Chiyoda Palace’ (1894, shown below). I love the elaborate clothes and bright splashes of red. You really get the sense that the people are enjoying playing underneath the blossom.

Toyohara Chikanobu_Chiyoda Ooku Ohanami

I made some experiments myself working from photos I took of the Clapham Hanami. I’m quite pleased with the results. I think it was a useful exercise, choosing to sketch something that I was unsure of and finding ways to tackle it to create drawings I was happy with. Wherever you are, I hope that you get to enjoy some blossom trees this Spring too!

owlstation_blossom sketch_2

Bunny Blossoms by Kozyndan used in appreciation without permission
Almond Blossom by Vincent Van Gogh provided by the Van Gogh Museum
Chiyoda Ooku Ohanami by Toyohara Chikanobu via Wikipedia
All other photographs and sketches are my own.

Kraken Rum

owlstation 2017_kraken rum_1

Rum is my favourite party drink and I was very happy to receive a bottle of Kraken as a Christmas present. Apart from being a fantastic companion to chilly nights and bad TV, I’ve been getting so much from just looking at the bottle design.

A ‘Kraken’ is of course a legendary sea beast, a giant squid famous for terrorising pirate ships. Catching them in its tangle of tentacles before pulling them down to the murky depths.


It is captured on my bottle doing just that. The illustration style is reminiscent of Victorian etchings. Inky cross-hatching that sinks into the parchment label. The etched look seems to be consistently popular today, with talented artists like Dan Hillier updating it to create weird and wonderful works (see below). There’s something so pleasing about this style of illustration that seems to instantly fire up the imagination and hint at the curious.

dan hillier

The shape of the bottle is unusual and according to the Kraken wikipedia page, is styled after traditional Victorian rum bottles. These featured two, hoop handles allowing the bottles to be hung and help prevent breakages.

owlstation 2017_kraken rum_2

The colour palette is simple and bold. The velvety black of the illustration contrasts against the cream of the label and both flatter the rich brown of the spirit. Little accents of silver around the logo mark add shine. A tiny, etched, silver kraken guards the bottle top, sealing the doom of any sailor (or casual drinker) that dares to try a measure.

owlstation 2017_kraken rum_3

Dan Hillier Illustration shown without permission of the artist. All other photographs are my own, Kraken video borrowed from Youtube.

Colour Studies

owlstation_colour-study_2017_tomb-raider

Here are a couple of little colour studies I’ve made as part of my research kick off for my next project with The Drawn Chorus. Super excited to be collaborating with them again! I call these colour studies…though I’m not sure if that is the technical term for them. The idea was to quickly and freely get down a range of colours and compositions to help me loosen up and get inspired around their exhibition theme. The first is a still from a Tomb Raider game, the second a campfire on a snowy mountain. More on that in the coming months!

owlstation_colour-study_2017_1