Stylised Animals

I wanted to try drawing animals in a more stylised way. I have a tendency to draw as I see, yet a desire to create something more relaxed and abstract.

My first choice of animal was a Fox. A little while ago I rescued one that had been hit by a car. It was wandering aimlessly in and out of the traffic and I was worried it would either get hit again or cause an accident. Placing him in the passenger seat of my car wrapped in my sweatshirt I drove him back to my home. Where the RSPCA collected him and he thankfully made a full recovery. I’m presuming it was a male fox of course. I didn’t get that up close and personal with it. 

I started with some sketchbook drawings. Using different photo references I drew several poses. Simplifying the fox anatomy into basic shapes, then creating a silhouette outline of its main characteristics. Then I used photoshop to digitally paint each one, arranging them into a repeat pattern using the Textile Designer feature.

I was pleased with the results and had a go at a few more woodland animals.

#ourplanetweek

Our Planet Week was created by a group of amazing artists on Instagram to help raise awareness for our world’s ecological crisis.

Prompt 1: Flora and Fauna

If we carry on the way we are….. exhibits will be all we have left.

I chose to characterise the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean in this illustration, having spent many happy times there.

The bell jar represents not only the potential future of our wildlife, but the frailty of its existence beneath the strain we thoughtlessly bestow upon it.

The number twelve symbolises zero hour on the doomsday clock. We are currently on a second away.

#letsmarkeartforfun

I enjoyed the Instagram folktale week so much I thought I’d join another illustration challenge. Visual storytelling has really captured my imagination.

‘Lets make art for fun’ was set by children’s book illustrator Claire Powell. One wacky prompt each Friday in January.

Cattywampus – 19th Century slang for an imaginary fierce wild animal.

I pictured victorian children running away for a terrifying hairy beast.

Bumbershoot – 1920’s word for an umbrella.

I imagined a stylish 20’s socialite taking her fashionable Boston Terrier out for a nighttime tinkle on the sidewalk.

Lollygagger – An 1860’s Americanism for spending time idly.

I imagined Victorian sisters leisurely chatting in the drawing room.

Folktale Week

Folktale Week is an Instagram illustration challenge, created by a group of renowned professional illustrators to encourage artists from all around the world to share stories and explore visual storytelling. There is a prompt each day for a week, to interpret however you wish. 

The prompts were issued a week prior to the challenge start. However, Last-Minute-Lucy here only decided to join on the first share-on-Instagram day. So no time to prep. 

Prompt – Home

Not wanting to waste time trying to figure out a concept (it was already midday on the first day of the challenge), I started with an interpretation of a traditional folktale. Little Red Riding Hood.

Prompt – Secret

For this prompt I decided to illustrate a scene from one of my favourite books as a child. ‘Knock Three Times’ by Marion St John Webb. The story’s main characters follow a magical pumpkin pincushion through a door in an ancient oak tree to a secret land.

Prompt – Path

A recurring childhood dream of being trapped in a tall tower inspired this artwork. I thought it was time to change the image in my mind’s eye to something less ominous.

Prompt – Darkness

For this piece I wanted to create a contrast between the calm fisherman and the rough sea. The quote is a line from the book ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville.

Prompt – Smoke

I enjoy reading and adore quotes. Which is were I took my motivation for this creation. In particular, a couple of quotes by Australian author Nikki Rowe. ‘There’s only one place I want to go and it’s all the places I’ve never been’. And ‘She was born to be free, let her run wild in her own way and you will never lose her’.

Prompt: Key

I took a slightly different approach to this prompt, not so literal. And thought about the word ‘key’ in terms of the key to our planet’s future. Motivated by the young people who have join the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion. Our future belongs to the curious!

Prompt – Crown

Bohemian snow queen was the inspiration for this winter scene. I imaged all the forest animals awaiting her arrival.

Still Playing with Dolls

The eclectic display of nicknacks that adorns my mother’s home are a never ending source of art inspiration. A striking variety of objet d’art from around the world, that helped implant the seed of curiosity deep within me from an early age. I would often wonder in delight at where and who they were from, imagining myself collecting such treasures when I was older. 

The little wooden Kokeshi doll, that sits on the windowsill, caught my eye recently. A beautifully handmade gift from a Japanese cousin my mother has had since the seventies. 

These traditional Japanese dolls date back as far as the 19th century. Made from the seasoned wood of the Mizuki tree. Crafted with a carpenter’s plane, on a potter’s wheel, then delicately hand painted and dipped in wax for a high sheen finish.

I thought their simple yet bold colours and shapes would make some nice wall art.

I’ve been playing around with Photoshop’s beta version of Textile designer. Creating repeats is now so much easier. No more placement calculations or starting a design from the corners. The instant previewer means you can see the repeat in real time, at any scale. I’m totally hooked and can’t resist trying everything in pattern form.

Words and Pictures

I took a painting Skillshare class over the weekend. Needed a break from the screen. – Illustrated Words & Monograms: Paint and Print Techniques (for Wall Art and Greetings Cards), by Illustrator Claire Picard.

Using a variety of methods, the brief was to illustrate words and letters with paint and liquid mask practises.

In the first task I used liquid mask to block out the word “j’adore”, then painted a mixed watercolour wash over the top. Adding hand painted hearts once the wash was dry. Finishing off with a small splatter of paint made with a toothbrush.

Filling the page with colour was a lot of fun. Although I did struggle with what to layer on top of the background and didn’t really take any risks. On my next attempt, I will experiment more. I lack somewhat in confidence when it comes to watercolour washes and was so pleased with how this turned out, I didn’t want to ruin it by overpainting.

I need to get over my fear of florals, so decided to use this assignment as practice. I resisted the temptation to view flower photo references and started by just painting flower shapes. Then I added detail with a black Micron fine liner.  

I wasn’t as happy with the results of this piece. I didn’t spend enough time thinking about what flower shapes would work well inside the letters or how they should be placed. It is very rudimental, to say the least. I will try again with just one big letter. Think I tried to run before I could walk with painting a whole word. The curse of being dyslexic…. my brain runs away with an idea that my physical self has no experience with and can’t keep up. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway….. Is how I felt doing this class project. Abstract, although a style I like, is something I’ve never tried before and I usually avoid florals. Especially loose expressive designs. I’ve kept my distance from such designs on account of not knowing where to start.

Claire’s class was the perfect introduction. And although my results are a little haphazard and very rough, (don’t think I’ve ever drawn so many flowers on one page), I’m totally inspired.

Portfolio Club

Illustration Prompt – Folk Costumes

This month’s Portfolio Club prompt has had me fondly walking down memory lane. Handmade folk costumes were a speciality of my French grandmother. Creating outfits for local folk groups was a favourite pastime of hers. And she enjoyed dressing me up in her creations. 

When I was young my grandparents lived in the mountain village of Pierre-Châtel. Five minutes walk from their farmhouse was the most beautiful blue lake. My brother and I would spend hours playing in the cool water during the long school summer holidays. As our mother was a teacher, we were fortunate enough to visit every year. 

Today when I hear the sound of crickets singing, I am momentarily transported back to that lakeside. I distinctly remember the fresh sensation of the cold mountain water on my sundrenched skin as I swam. And the tickle of warmth from the long grass on my back as I lay in the sunshine drying off. I can even recall the dappled light from the tree lined walk down to the waters edge. And how we would skip with glee along that dusty road towards our treasured destination. Such happy days, I have been very privileged. A big thank you to my mother, who made our childhood endlessly adventurous by preserving her French roots.

I used these photos, that were taken in 1977, as inspiration for my illustration. I had a friend who’s grandparents lived opposite mine and we often dressed up in my nana’s homemade costumes.