Monday, September 16, 2019

My illustration process - Creating an illustrated leaflet

I worked with ‘Incredible Edible Lambeth’ again this year to produce a folded illustrated leaflet promoting all the wonderful Harvest events happening in their area.

The leaflet, which is A6 size when folded, is printed on both sides of an A4 sheet.

I needed to create a cover, back, middle spread and large central list based on the one from the previous year. The text was to be handwritten again and the first job was to write, scan and collate this together. 

Next I needed to change the text colour from black to a dark green using the ‘Colour Range’ tool on Photoshop. After this it was a case of adding the illustrations on a separate layer until everything looked about right.

The leaflet was checked, I made final amendments and the complete version was sent as a PDF, ready for printing.

It’s a lovely event, so if you are local, do pop along!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Trying out 'Daniel Smith' watercolours

I was excited to win a raffle prize at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam this year, especially as it contained a set of Daniel Smith watercolours. I’d always wanted to try them as I had heard such great things about the paints!

My raffle prize!
Firstly, I set about painting some colour swatches. The ever so tiny Hahnmuhle zigzag sketchbook, which was part of the prize too, was perfect for this. The set I won has colours put together by Jane Blundell. My initial reaction was that they were very earthy colours with no greens. The texture was quite creamy with an almost gouache feel when using them. I particularly enjoyed using the Buff Titanium, both on its own and as a mixer.
Colour testing in the Hahnemuhle zigzag sketchbook

Colour testing in the Hahnemuhle zigzag sketchbook
Next was to take the box out on location. I painted with them at Greenwich, Dulwich and Pitzhanger Manor. The lack of ready mixed greens was the biggest problem for me. Also at one point the colours fell out of their box so I bought a metal tin to hold them instead. 

The main result from using them was that I realised what my favourite colours are from Winsor & Newton. I missed their Cobalt Blue, Naples Yellow, Indian Yellow, Cobalt Turquoise Light and Opera Rose. I love their greens especially Oxide of Chromium and Perylene Green.
My usual W&N palette, just one DS - Lunar Blue
I’m off on an exciting trip soon so I think I’ll combine the two sets, picking my favourites from both companies and see how that works.

Monday, September 2, 2019

ASC Open Studios in Croydon

It’s been almost year since the opening of the ASC Art House in Croydon, where I have studio space, and to celebrate we are holding an Open Studio event! More than fifty studios will be open, showing a wide range of work from painting, sculpture, printmaking, fashion, upholstery, photography and much more.

The dates and times are:
Friday 13th September, 6 - 9 pm and Saturday 14th September, 12 - 5 pm

It would be lovely if you could make it along!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Gallery Late at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery held a special ‘Gallery Late’ last week and I was lucky to have a ticket on what turned out to be a lovely warm summer evening.

I arrived early to draw ‘The Colour Palace’, the temporary pavilion built in the grounds of the gallery, designed and built by Yinka Ilori and Pricegore architects.

The evening’s events were inspired by the current exhibition, ‘Cutting Edge -Modernist British Printmaking’ and there were lots of workshops and activities to try. I had a go at 1930s fashion drawing and making a print. Also on offer were sewing, pottery and drawing activities. It’s not often as adults that you get the chance to ‘play’ like this and everyone seemed to be relishing the opportunity!

Also currently on display is the most beautiful paper cut artwork entitled ‘Sumi’ by Nabokov Kohima. Eight metres long and cut from a single sheet of paper, the crocodile hangs from the ceiling by countless threads, the top side painted black, the underside gold. It really is a stunning piece of work. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

5 cafes with great views of Amsterdam

On my recent trip to Amsterdam, the weather was extremely hot, meaning I searched out cool places to sit and draw! Here are five cafes and restaurants, all reasonably priced which have great views of the city.

Third floor
Kalverpassage Shopping Centre

The Bar/Restaurant at the EYE Film Museum
1031 KT Amsterdam
*Get there by taking one of the free ferries from the back of Centraal Station

Roof Top Restaurant at the Nemo Science Museum
Oosterdok 2
1011 VX Amsterdam
1000 AK Amsterdam

Babel Restaurant on the 7th Floor at the OBA Library
Oosterdokskade 143
1011 DL Amsterdam

Zuid Roof terrace
Weesperstraat 105
1018 VN

*No drawing from here but well worth a visit.

Monday, July 8, 2019

All things Pinterest

I’m using the ‘Dream Plan Do’ planner again this year and my 90-day challenge in the second quarter of the year was to find out more about Pinterest and how I could use it to help me develop and market my illustration business. I’ve had a Pinterest account for ages but mainly used it as a visual scrapbook, collecting inspiration and reference images.

After spending time reading helpful articles and podcasts, I’ve had a big sort out of my boards, renaming them and focussing on the specific areas of illustration that I am interested in. I went through all the images (there were a lot!) and edited them down. I’ve started to add some of my own work to the relevant boards now too. Still a long way to go and lots more to learn, but it’s a start!

I’m listing below the people and places where I have found lots of useful information so far:

This ‘Simple and Season’ podcast from Kayte Ferris features tips from the team at Curly Carrot -

In this blog post from watercolour illustrator Ohn Mar Win, she talks about how she uses the platform to promote her work -

A clear and concise article about Pinterest by Creative Bloq -

In this ‘Hashtag Authentic’ podcast, Sara Tasker talks to the Pinterest UK team -

Lauren Hooker from Elle & Co talks about her surprising but successful Pinterest Strategy -

There is a huge amount of free information on the ‘Simple Pin Media’ website -

And of course, there is a huge amount of useful information on Pinterest itself!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Summer sketching dates with London USk

Hungerford Bridge drawn on June's evening sketchcrawl with London USk

As you may know if you have followed this blog for a while, I’m a very keen urban sketcher. I help organise the calendar for the London chapter and they have quite a few sketching opportunities lined up over the summer:

Friday 12th July 6-8pm ‘Drink and Draw’ at the Royal Festival Hall.
Wednesday 17th July 6-8pm Evening sketching at Victoria Embankment Gardens.
Saturday 20th July 11–3.30pm Regent’s Park Sketchcrawl
Wednesday 7th August 6-8pm Evening sketching at Hay’s Galleria
Saturday 17th August 11-3.30pm Greenwich Sketchcrawl

Full details of all the meet ups are on the London USk blog and their Facebook group

Whether you are an experienced professional or a complete beginner, all are welcome. 

The events are free, just turn up with your sketching materials.

Monday, June 24, 2019

My illustration process - Creating Visuals

I’m often creating visuals for clients but because of ‘Non disclosure agreements’ (NDA) I’m usually not able to share the results. This piece is an exception. I drew it for a ‘Spacehive’ crowdfunding campaign by Park Hill Friends, as they try and raise money for new pathways in their Walled Garden to enable better disabled access. 

B&W rough

The first stage is getting the brief from the client. In this case I visited the Walled Garden and spoke to the Friends group, confirming the requirements later by email. I then drew up a black and white ‘rough’ which was sent to the client for feedback. At this stage it is possible to make changes before moving on to the colour artwork. 

Colour Artwork

In the final piece, I needed to make sure that the emphasis of the illustration was on the proposed new paths and the people that would be able to use them. The client also wanted to show the diversity of people living in the area that used the park. The colour artwork was drawn with a fine liner and watercolour at A2, scanned in sections into Photoshop where final adjustments were made before supplying a high-resolution digital copy to the client. With pieces like this there is always a certain amount of invention balanced with giving a realistic idea of what the proposed plans might look like when complete.

The campaign is currently live and can be seen here. Please get in touch if you think that I may be able to help with a project by supplying watercolour visuals!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Topping up my watercolours - step by step

Collecting together the almost empty pans and half pans

Using washing-up liquid to clean the empty boxes
Using tubes of professional watercolours to top up the cleaned pans
Carefully squeeze the paint into the half pan.

I tried to fill two of each colour so as to have identical palettes both for the studio and on location.
I then left them to dry out for five days.
After drying, the colours sank slightly so will remember to top up a bit more next time.
I took the opportunity to redo the Blutac layer in my smaller tin which means that I can keep 24 colours in there.
It's a tip from USk instructor Liz Steel.

Cut the Blutac (or similar) to roughly the correct size.

Spread out to fill the bottom of the tin

Start adding the half pans, pressing down slightly so they stick in the Blutac

I was inspired by Suhita Shirodkar and Teoh Yi Chie to try out this method. It's only the second time I've tried it - the first time I didn't let the paint dry enough and you can imagine the result!

I think it's a cheaper way of buying paint and relatively easy to do.