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 – 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.

Video Killed the Radio Star

The one thing I do every single day is listen to music. It brings me so much joy. Tapping my foot, singing or dancing along elevates my disposition instantly. It also helps my concentration and keeps me in the moment. Often inspiring the recall of a fond memory or pleasant moment in time, as particular melodies remind me of people I’ve met or cared for. I couldn’t live without it, I am a massive music fan. 

The radio has played a huge part in my musical history and was the inspiration behind this print design. As a teenager I would listen enthusiastically to the chart show every Sunday for two hours. Shutting myself alone in the bedroom recording my favourites on cassette tape, which I would then play over and over again, until the following Sunday. It used to drive my little brother mad. He was a jazz fan and detested popular music. 

Today I have more of a penchant for variety and my musical tastes venture way beyond chart hits, but the radio is still the perfect receptacle for discovering new music. And a great source of recollection. If only I could remember all the names of all the songs I’ve ever heard. 

Accompanying repeat surface pattern

Moth Balls

Last week autumn was on its way, this week the sunshine is back. Wanting something cooler to wear I reached for an old favourite from the back of my wardrobe. A lightweight cotton dress that is comfy to wear and easy to style up with accessories. To my horror it was full of tiny moth holes. 

This illustrated print design and accompanying repeat pattern was inspired by my discovery. Whilst researching a natural moth repellent online, I got distracted by the pretty moth pictures. Totally seduced by their phenomenal beauty, I just had to draw them.   

Using a fine black liner I drew the moths on paper first. Then working with Illustrator’s ‘image trace’ tool, I created vectors from the scanned-in drawings. And finally I added colour using the ‘live paint’ tool.

Moth half drop repeat pattern

Easy-Peasy Mac and Cheesy

macaroni cheese step by step illustrated recipe

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops I yearn for warm hearty filling food. Gone are the salad leaves, new potatoes and couscous. Making way for pasta, rice, mash and pastry. My tiny, dark galley kitchen seems to shrink in the autumn and winter months. So one or two pot meals that can be prepared and then left to cook, unwatched and unattended are favourable. Here is one of the Adams family classics. 

I have submitted this illustrated recipe to theydrawandcook.com, a site where creative people share their love of food and art through illustration