Tuesday, December 30, 2014


My Christmas season has been fabulous so far, I have watched a LOT of children's films. 

And saw lovely friends and family and ate tasty food of course. 

As is traditional I decided to make a portion of my gifts this year and I decided to make a selection of coasters. 

After umming and ahhing over various tutorials on Pinterest, I bought a job lot of wooden and felt circles from ebay and then began covering them in collage designs. 

Some were in sets like these almost obligatory map and bird designs

and roses

and others were one offs. 

In all a good crafting activity for giftage, although beware of taking up a lot of surfaces in the home when many are drying at once.

If you are thinking of making some coasters and you want them to be functional as well, make sure you consider the waterproofness of the materials you use - I used found printed papers and book cutouts for a lot of the designs (woo serendipity etc.) but where I did use pictures I'd printed from my own designs I made sure to print them on a photocopier with heat sealed ink, and not on my inkjet printer. I also sprayed the finished coasters with two coatings of varnish, but early results indicate the brand I used might not be particularly heat resistant, so do more research than I did. 

Merry betweenchristmasandnewyears

Friday, November 28, 2014

In praise of felt tips

Felt tips can get a bad press, Mostly because if you use them badly, they look, well, really bad.
But if you use oil paints badly....  yeah they look really bad too. und so weiter. 

I don't know if the quote is a bad workman or a poor workman who famously blames his tools, a poor workman at least has more reason to own low quality tools I suppose. 

And I could easily go on a sadly un-sponsored (but welcome to offers!) praise singing bent about the virtues of Promarkers, or Sharpies, or Kuretake Brushables. Or reminisce about this really amazing set of felt tips I bought in a french supermarket in my late teens (Ultra-lavable) which just bled perfectly on cartridge paper and blended so nicely. But I think that's only half the battle. 

In fact sometimes rubbish felt pens can be even more satisfying, getting that scratchy half tone with a perfectly uniform colour? yum. 

I've been using felt pens, and yes, specifically but not exclusively Promarkers and Sharpies, in a lot of my live drawing work recently, because they are quick and colourful. And for the tonal work (the shadows) too - yes for realsies, in fact I often like to start with the tones, and add details after (because even with posh pens, dark colours can sometimes bleed into lighter colours if you go over the top, and because as well, it makes people go oooooh). As can be seen in these pictures herenow.

I just drew the brilliant Jen Conroy in this very style and thought to cunningly scan the process in three simple stages, so that you toooo, can ooooh. If you like. 

Negative Space first!



Detail, and some whimsical pattern.

Here are some portraits I did a few weeks ago at the Jumble and Pearls Christmas Fair.


In the summer, I used felt pens for a few other more exciting live drawing instances, which I did not get around to blogging about at the time, due to excess of thesis.

In September I went to an OffLife quick draw event at The House of Illustration, a newish graphic arts gallery in that newly developed nice fountany bit at granary square across the canal from London St Pancras. Which I like to call London St Pancreas and pretend I'm a tourist.

We were given a theme to illustrate every 15 minutes, so we literally did have to draw quickly and think quickly too. I sat with the always excellent value Gareth Hopkins aka GrthInk, he did a blog of the event (in a much more timely fashion) here.

I like having to think on my feet, or perhaps with my fingers in this case, and I had a great night, although not all of the drawings I did are ones I'd necessarily want to show you. One I'm holding back because I want to do a properly worked up version for my portfolio when I get time. I left the original drawings taped to the wall, so apologies for the phone photo pictures

The first topic was 'How I'd get my five minutes of fame', I started straight in by drawing a newscaster standing in front of a TV frame, hopeful that by the time I'd drawn this I would have come up with a good idea. I didn't really come up with a good idea, but I'm happy with the image because of this early attention to framing and composition innit?

Here's my drawing for the brief brief 'What I'd do if I had only one day to live'

I've always wanted to become an epic street artist and commit nefarious acts of beauty, but I've never had the balls. This is also one of the many answers to the question what would i do if I had Bernard's Watch. But that's another story.

I really do not know what was happening in my brain when I drew this in response to 'What's really down the back of the sofa'

Off Life actually run an online Quick Draw every Thursday, if you're interested in getting involved with some speedy illustration.

Now on to the final felt tip adventure I want to chronicle. Way back in May I pitched a live art idea to an events manager I've worked with a few times doing live portraits with Cult Events, what I ended up doing was not exactly what I pitched (I'm keeping that one under wraps still, I'm going to make it happen sooner or later) but was possibly the most fun I've had with felt tips.

Over the course of an evening at Dive Bar beneath Hoxton Seven titled Peep Show, I filled two enormous boards with live sketches of the performers of the evening, amassing together to make one large record of the event. 

Did I mention that a large number of these performers were burlesque and drag artists? 

Similar to my cowardice in not so far becoming an internationally renowned street artist, is my persistent lack of dressing up in feathers and face paint and shaking my thing. The spirit is willing but the flesh is lazy. I adore anything OTT and sparkly and tongue in cheek, but realistically, I'm not going to be the one on stage singing about my sexploits. That would be inappropriate. 
Because I am a teacher. 
And afraid. 

But I can DRAW them. 
This is what I drew that night.

I started with the mirror ball, and added atmospheric light splashes with the square end of my Promarkers.

Of especial note was the mesmerising musical performance of Kristal Sisodia,
I almost captured her elegance.

Also in evidence were several members of The Family Fierce, some of whom you may have seen on Drag Queens of London. 

Including but not limited to the enigmatic and effervescent Mx Ruby Wednesday (centre, Jokeresque makeup), the compère par excitement Rubyyy Jones (singing and pink opera gloves, bottom left) and I'm pretty sure (should probably have made notes) that the figure top left is the ineffable art queen Bourgeoisie.

I also enjoyed meeting Fairyprincessmermaidbarbie  although I didn't get to draw a detailed picture you can see her here in profile.

Have I convinced you that felt tips are brilliant yet? Or perhaps of your future career as a drag artist?

If not me, then why not someone else, here are some other awesome artists I like using felt tips. 

Ahh the wonders of felt tippery. Next week: why I really like filing cabinets.

Not really. 


I mean. I do really like filing cabinets. I just might not blog about it.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Back in 2007 when I did this ink drawing of magpies (or more accurately magpie as it's technically the same magpie from different moments in a video), I didn't know it was going to become the best thing I ever did and an inspiration to a series of other black and white bird paintings over the years. Of all the pictures I've made before and since this is the most consistently complimented, and the style I've been most often commissioned to reproduce. 

I've never really been able to put my finger on it's appeal, the looseness and liveliness of the drawing are not the only factors, it's something basically pleasing about the repetition I think, and the sort of half-rhyme rhythm of that repetition. Maybe. And it reminds people of the song that inspired it, you know, one for sorrow and all that. 

Back when this piece was featured in the AOI images exhibition and book in 2008, I made an edition of 20 digital prints at a nice print shop in Brighton. They've been trickling out of my portfolio over the intervening years via etsy and artfinder and at fairs and exhibitions

And I posted one today and I realised there are only 2 left. 

If I understand artistic integrity correctly, it would be inappropriate for me to reprint them in the same size as that would invalidate the limitedness of the original 20 printed. So if you want one, act now. Or forever hold your peace. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unnatural love of photocopiers.

So I started a new teaching job, which is really exciting for lots of reasons and I'm looking forward to lots of the things that I'm going to do and teach and learning all the new things about my new school. 

But really I am honestly most excited because in the department we have one of those photocopiers that prints in single colours.

Oh. The. Fun. We. Will. Have.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Elegant kitsch

My long summer of thesis writing is finally over, (I done a Masters).  I'm back in the saddle as it were with a typically long list of things to see and do, but some of the pressure off.

When you're, you know, artzy, creative typy, a person that is driven to make things, there are definitely more people like this than just me, when you're that - it can make you a bit sad and crazy when you don't have time to make the things you want to. 

Last weekend I took all the postits around my desk that had things on them like 'remember to connect cultural capital back to Bourdieu', and 'check reference to Ullman - Polyvalancy! - happenstance!', 'pop art is outdated nostalgia not contemporary critique in the classroom' and 'remember to eat' (at least one of these is genuine), and put up in their place all the postits from the side of my desk of ideas for drawing and artworks that i'd scribbled down during the last few months when I haven't had time to draw them. 

And tonight, I sat down and made one of them a reality. 

And it felt really good.

It isn't for anything really, and I'm not even sure if it's about anything. It was just a picture in my head I wanted to get on paper. 

Soon I will do more proper blogging and tell you about other things I got up to over the summer with wedding portraits, live burlesque drawing, flyer designs and other stuff. Probably.

And exciting things coming up in the soontimes too, like a Big Draw event I'll be running with Storyhands in October, and the hopefully not too distant relaunch of my website. And some comics stuff. Probably.

If you are curious about the postit, this is it:

A few hours after I drew it I went back and feverishly scribble the phrase 'elegant kitsch' (misspelled) along the bottom, but on reflection I don't actually know what I meant by this. Deadline delirium. It's possible it was meant to go on one of the thesis postits.

And don't worry mum, I did remember to eat. A lot.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

You know my favourite things include but are not limited to, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, hand drawn lettering, exciting fonts, maps, birds, fish, old cameras and people asking me to design their wedding invites using some or all of the previously mentioned. Horay!

Katie and Elliot came to me with the concept of the brown paper and mix of hand drawn fonts, and also with a lot of cute ideas for fitting in mini illustrations that relate to them and their interests - like the SLR camera film venue name because Katie is a photographer, and the oar and brown trout that reflect Elliot's rowing and fishing. I sketched out all the words and pictures separately, which made for easy editing to make different versions for the different time slots on the day.

some of the original drawings pre-photoshop.

I also got to do this great map design with detailed ink drawings of the key venues, hotels and local landmarks (like the pub where the couple met)

Some of the original drawings for the map. 

And here's our invite package unpacked, the concept for the talking heads image was slightly cheekily lifted from this design, but I replaced the 50s illustrations with portraits of Katie and Elliot, to make it more personal again. 

In fact the best thing about this project (apart from getting to do all of those favourite things) was how personal to the couple the designs were able to be. It was a great working process and we chatted a lot about ideas and layouts. Apologies for obvious sales spiel - but that's what you can get when you work with someone to design your own unique stationary rather than picking an existing template. 
IF you know what I mean. wink wink.  

The invites came out really well and I'm looking forward to doing some more work for this lovely couple for their big day this summer. In some ways similar, but so different from the designs I did for my own wedding stationary, which were also grounded in a big mix of lettering styles, but much more collagey and colourful:

If you think you might be interested in having me design some celebratory stationary for your event, please do drop me an email with your ideas and I'll make you some quotes. 

Strangely, I'm not that big on bright copper kettles or warm woolen mittens. 

Also, if anyone actually wanted to commission wedding invites that included drawings of kittens and roses, that actually would be the best commission ever. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Jumble and Pearls May 2014 - live portraits and cards and bits and bobs again.

 Here are some of my favourite portraits that I did at Jumble and Pearls vintage and handmade fair at the Book Club last week:

I'm, as it were, gutted to not be going to the next one as I have a wedding to go to (it's almost that time of year again - handy since I also bought this epic fascinator from Maiden Found at Jumble and Pears also) 

but should be back again for the August event. 

As per-freelancey-usual, events of unexpected nature have eaten my life since I got back from Honeymoon and finished my draft essay (about which, more time another post) - so all the time I had earmarked for making and organising for the fair kind of disappeared, I had hoped to have a whole new series of prints and cards but as it was I mostly had a few bits and pieces I squeezed in round the edges. Includingoodling, these collage cards

mmmmmmm. circley. 

I also did a series of high end prints of that same bird (it's a Jacamar) in different colour ways. Those that didn't sell last week I'll be feeding on to Artfinder here.

This was my stuff all on the table for sale and that. Apologies for the pants quality, it was pretty dark down there in the basement. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Inspiration - with bonus diversity of lightbulb metaphors

I'm going to post a few more editorial illustrations plus spiel for your pleasure. First, here's a thing about inspiration, and how it's different for everyone. 

I'm not sure about the lens flair. I may have gone too far. 

What is it to be creative? Well it's different for everyone isn't it? A slow, glowing realisation like an eco-bulb, a strong obsessive spotlight beam. Sometimes it begins with little noticings, things that scratch at the corners of your brain and make you focus on things you didn't look so closely at before, although you see the echoes of that noticing, when you look back. Right now I'm obsessed with branches against sky, I keep looking up and seeing the buds growing and the so many different ways of dividing and sub dividing. I know it's going somewhere this new obsession, but I haven't had the lightbulb moment yet. I've had little ones. Actually I think my inspiration lightbulb metaphor would be maybe a string of fairy lights. I wish I'd drawn that now. Too late. It's ok though - because the point is it's different for everybody.

And yeah I really am obsessed with taking photos of trees. Mostly branches against sky.
Do you want to see some? Of course you do. 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Honeymoon pics

I will resist the temptation to show you ALL of my honeymoon pics. But fyi, in real life, those idyllic photos of palm trees and white sands you've seen on motivational posters and adverts all your life? That's an actual place you can go to. I know, weird right? 

This is my fave because I photographed someone else's photograph. And I'm a bit obsessed with people posing for photos and how weird that actually is. There's a few videos out there like this:


 There's a future illustration about this brewing in the back of my head somewhere. 

Idyllic N'est Pas?

 I may also be a little obsessed with mirror sunglasses selfies. It just adds that extra dimension of eliptical narcissism you know?

Oh also I drew some pictures:

Ink and wash isn't it? Because if you spend enough time teaching secondary art, you start thinking like a gcse project and using 'a variety of media'. 

Oh dear.