Moving House

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So after a bit of a moving house hiatus, I’m finally getting back to normal! It was a hectic first month in our new home, furiously adult-ing and trying to get everything set up and organised. Whilst a month with no home internet is refreshing in some ways, it did make life a bit trickier in others. I think I’d really taken for granted how useful it is to be able to just Google ‘this’ or check out ‘that’.

I often find during such transitional periods in my life that creativity can take a bit of a back seat. So I was very happy to finally have my new desk space up and running with everything in its right place. And to have my second monitor back which I’d missed like hell!

Here’s a snap of my new work station and above is a celebratory sketch I made from our new kitchen the day our internet was connected. It’s good to be back!

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Research

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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!).

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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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Stylish Beings #2

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I’m continuing my exercise of drawing every pin on my Pinterest board ‘Stylish Beings’. This is a place where I collect images of icons, celebrities and well dressed folk that I think are especially cool! I did lose momentum recently as life got a little busy, but i’m getting back into the flow of it now.

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I’m enjoying working my way through the board, remembering the people and outfits that I had pinned and getting excited about how I could draw them. It’s pleasing when I discover that a particular medium fits a celebrity well. For example scratchy, black ink is perfect for rendering Alison Mosshart’s mussy bed hair!

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Each pin provides its own little challenge, with some that I expected to be easy turning out to be very complicated and vice versa. *Spoilers* upcoming pins on my radar include rocker Brody Dalle, actress Winona Rider and the iconic Elizabeth Taylor.

Stylish Beings

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I set myself an exercise to draw every pin on my Pinterest board ‘Stylish Beings’. This is a board where I’ve been pinning people I think are particularly cool, glam or fascinating. So far it has about 200 pins and I thought it would be good drawing practice to have a crack at sketching each and every one.

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I’m forcing myself not to get too precious about it…so far I’ve drawn 39 and it’s safe to say that a good number of those will never see the light of day, but the more I draw the more i’m creating drawings that i’m really happy with and enjoying playing about with media and style. If I do a bad one, I drop it and move on to the next.

Capturing the likenesses is something I want to work on too, but hopefully by the time I get to pin #200 that will start to improve! Here’s a little selection of some of my faves so far:

 

Lettering

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I’ve started reading ‘Pen Lettering’ by calligrapher Ann Camp with a view to improving my understanding of letter forms and (hopefully) upping my skills when it comes to wielding them.

Through my various stints of creative education and now working as a freelance designer, I’ve picked up basic knowledge and skills for lettering and typography. I can comfortably choose typefaces and lay out text in a pleasing way, but often when I attempt to hand-draw letters, I can come unstuck. So I decide it was time for a booster.

The first few pages of Ann Camp’s 1958 introduction to lettering were illuminating. She explains concepts such as the spacing between letters, teaching that this should not be worked out mechanically because of their varying shapes. For example, letters made of upright strokes should have more spacing between them than letters made of curved strokes, which should sit closer together. The aim being to keep the white spacing between letters optically proportionate at all times.  Whilst I have always aimed for good spacing in my designs, I have never really learned about the theory or logic behind it.

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…After the first few pages, she introduces some exercises, and that’s when things got HARD! I had to re-read her task explanation at least 5 times and apply a tonne of brainpower before I could properly get to work. In steps reminiscent of the ‘How to Draw an Owl’ meme (see below), she asks you to essentially rule out lines and copy the skeleton alphabet.

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I’ve persevered. So far just practicing the lower case, the next step is upper case and then using both cases to form some words. The skeleton alphabet helps beginners to understand the basic form and characteristics of letters, before moving on to more complex stuff.

A sneaky peak ahead has shown me that the next exercise involves double bound pencils and what looks like first steps of calligraphy, so i’m keen to get there. I find it can be difficult to keep up self initiated challenges such as this one, where the results aren’t always instantaneous or glamorous. But I’ll stick with it for now and see where it takes me!

Exploring in the East

I’m back from two and a half months of travel in China and New Zealand. An adventure I’d been dreaming about taking for years and it did not disappoint! I’m afraid that I let blog and twitter updates slip while I was away. I really wanted to focus on the moment, just being there. Painting on the Great Wall, sketching sumptuous temples, drawing mountains and rivers in the wilderness of New Zealand. Exploring, being outside, getting away from screens and using my body. And it felt really good to do so!

Everyone says it, but I definitely learned more about myself whilst travelling. There were sides of my personality that came out that I didn’t know existed. Sometimes positive, other times negative. But I think my main takeaway, was reminding myself of something I already knew; I love to be outside, I feel alive when I’m outside, in nature, rooted on the earth and surrounded by plants.

Now I’m back I want to hold onto those things and keep them in my mind so I can continue to work towards them and make sure they stay a constant part of my life. I’ll be sharing my travel sketchbook with you soon, but for now, here are a few of my stand out photographs from the trip. Mainly plucked from instagram as I do love a good filter!