Friday, October 5, 2018

What's it like to go to a Makelight Photography Workshop?

One of the people I love to follow online is Emily Quinton from Makelight. She takes the most beautifully styled photographs, so I was very excited to spend a day doing a photography workshop at her home last month. I’d previously enrolled onto her ‘Joy of Summer’ course and felt that it helped me make the most of the summer months.

Emily (who despite having broken her hand still went ahead with the workshop!) was helped on the day by Bethie Hungerford and there were eight in the workshop group. We were welcomed with tea and coffee, and sitting around Emily’s large kitchen table, introduced ourselves. Emily started by talking about her work as a photographer, moving on to talk about how to best use the camera on your phone. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and I felt comfortable asking even the most basic questions. Using backgrounds and editing apps, finding the best light and making test shots were some of the topics covered.

Using a roll-up background
We then spent some time taking photographs in the kitchen and in the garden. (I need to point out that this is no ordinary kitchen. It is a huge, light filled room, full of beautiful photogenic props, flowers and books)

Homemade bread

Frittata and flowers

Lentil Salad

Yummy fruit crumble

Lunch had been cooked by the very talented Bethie and despite the broken hand, Emily showed us how she would go about styling a table for photographs, so there was more opportunity for pictures. The food tasted as delicious as it looked, with something for all tastes and dietary requirements.

In the afternoon we moved on to using a ‘proper’ camera, something I hadn’t done for a while. I’d borrowed one for the day and my unfamiliarity with it was a bit of a problem, especially when the battery ran out very quickly. Still, sometimes it is when things go wrong that you learn the most, so I learnt quite a lot even though I didn’t have much to show in the way of photographic results!

I paid £95 for the workshop in the Makelight sale and thought it was good value for money. Emily runs online workshops and courses, is on Instagram @emilyquinton and you can find out more at

Bethie Hungerford is an amazing cook, on Instagram @hungermama and blogs at

Empty cups at the end of the day
*All the photographs here were taken on the day with my rather ancient Windows Phone.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Croydon for Caffeine Addicts

I recently worked with Maddy from 'East Croydon Cool' to produce this black and white map of Croydon for caffeine addicts, highlighting a selection of the finest independent coffee stops in the town. Close-ups of some of the illustrations below.

There is a downloadable version on the East Croydon Cool website at

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Presents from Porto!

I set myself the challenge throughout August to just use the materials I received in the goody bag from USk Porto symposium as I thought it would be good to try something different. 

In addition to the materials in the bag I also used the bamboo pen and stick given to me by Imna Serrano in her workshop, adding a container of Indian ink. 

My other addition was a stick of glue as I was also inspired by one of the other sketchers, Ana Luisa Frazao, who used collage as part of her urban sketching technique. Luckily for me there was a small water brush and two watercolour ‘dot’ cards included in the bag, so I didn’t have to give up painting completely!

Swatches of the materials at the beginning of the sketchbook

I really like the size of the Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook, A5 opening up to A4. It took pen and pencil line very well. The colour palette of the pens and pencils was mainly blacks, blues and reds so that was a change for me. Unfortunately, the Leuchtturm1917 is not made for watercolour so I struggled a little when trying to paint. Still, I found that the ‘White Nights’ colours had a really nice quality even on a plain paper. Imna had stressed in her workshop to try and keep the joy of using new materials and I tried to keep that in mind not worrying about the end result. Hence the sketchbook is rather a mixture of pieces. My favourites so far are the ‘Zebra’ pen, which felt a little like a small brush pen and is able to give a nice variety of line and the ‘Cretacolor’ Nero Soft black pencil.

All the drawings I made in the post about my trip to Lyon were with the new materials and here are some more pages and details, along with the media used.

The 'Zebra' pen in the Leuchtturm1917
Winsor and Newton Water Colour Markers in the Leuchtturm1917

Winsor and Newton Water Colour Markers plus 'Zebra' pen in the Leuchtturm1917

'White Night' watercolours, applied with Faber Castell brushpen plus 'Zebra pen (on receipt) in the Leuchtturm1917
'White Night' watercolours applied with Faber Castell brushpen in the Leuchtturm1917
'QoR' watercolour by Golden applied by Faber castell brushpen and 'Zebra' pen in the Leuchtturm1917
 A big thank you to all the companies who supplied the items in the goody bag!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

'Sketch Tour Portugal' website is live!

Some of the watercolours I made last year whilst being part of the 'Sketch Tour Portugal' organised by Turismo de Portugal and Urban Sketchers, are now live on a dedicated website! 

I was lucky to be chosen to be part of the team of 24, drawing and touring the country in 2017. I drew in the Lisbon area alongside Jose Louro, where we produced at least six drawings a day for a week. It was an intense but amazing experience! 

You can search by region, activity or artist to get a personal view of this beautiful country at

Friday, August 17, 2018

Long weekend in Lyon

I recently spent a lovely but very hot weekend in Lyon. The high temperatures meant lots of time was spent trying to find places with air conditioning, leading to more drawings of cold drinks than I’d normally make!


As well as the Musée des Beaux Arts in the centre of the city, I also visited the very impressive ‘Musée des Confluences’ which had a wide range of different permanent and temporary exhibitions.

My favourite was an exhibition of work by graphic artist Hugo Pratt, concentrating on stories about his character Corto Maltese.  The exhibition rooms were dark, with theatrical lighting used to highlight images and collected African items. The shadows cast were particularly effective. A soundtrack of jungle noises and drum beats added to the atmosphere. Individual comic frames were blown up, printed on sheer fabric and stretched over frames. In one circular area, projected images were overlaid on one another, giving the impression of animation, all enhanced with a simple colour scheme. Unfortunately, my French isn’t good enough to know whether the stories are good or not, but they certainly looked dramatic on this scale.

There were lots of photo opportunities in the city, particularly in old town area.

 Note to self: Next time you travel make sure that you book an air(conditioned)bnb.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Porto patterns and typography

Last of the posts from Porto, a selection of photographs from my week's stay in the lovely city.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Workshop with Fred Lynch

Of all the artists whose workshops I’d booked at the USk Porto Symposium, Fred Lynch was the person I knew least about. I knew he made beautiful tonal drawings and wrote knowledgeably about the history behind the places he drew but apart from that, not a lot.

It turns out Fred is actually a Professor of Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design and is the font for all illustration knowledge, which he was happy to share with the group.

This is the link to his website if you would like to see his beautiful work 

He started the workshop by asking us to finish the following sentence:

'Porto is so visually interesting because...'

I wrote '...the hills both sides of the river mean that you can see the buildings stacked up on both sides'

Then we set off to draw what we had written. Mine is above.

For the second exercise he read us a quote from writer Mary McCarthy:

‘Any Portuguese town looks like a bride’s finery. Something old, something new, something borrowed something blue’.

We then set off to draw 'a bunch of ideas' inspired by the text, which we would show to the group and then decide which one to pursue with. He emphasised that an illustration didn’t necessarily have to replicate what was in the text but could compliment it and add to it.

Fred was an excellent communicator and full of energy, with a great sense of humour and I really enjoyed this last workshop of the symposium.