Thursday, 21 January 2016

A New Book Project | A Wilder Life










Hello. It is I, the owner of this very neglected blog. I have returned to share a very exciting project that I started working on in August of 2014. As of today, I hold the finished product in my hands and it's beautiful.

This is Wilder Quarterly's first book, A Wilder Life, and it's a seasonal guide to "getting in touch with nature" which includes chapters on seasonal recipes, apothecary, DIY, foraging, and self-reliance among many other topics. It's a project that I'm proud to have been a part of, not least because the book is a thing of beauty and my illustrations share pages with work by photographers Krysta Jabczenski and Claire Cottrell.

Autumnal produce

I was asked to create watercolour illustrations to accompany many of the themes around nature, including seasonal produce to grow in your garden, medicinal plants to collect for tinctures, teas and homemade beauty products and wildlife to spot throughout the year.
Healing gemstones
These spot sized illustrations can be found in list from throughout the book - the crystals illustrate a chapter on beauty and healing. 
"Different cultures use crystals and gemstones differently - some complementary therapies encourage placing the stones on the body to connect to the body's energy fields or chakras, while others prefer the use of wands or pendulums. As nature lovers, we prefer to appreciate the stones for what they are: marvels of nature."
A Seasonal Apothecary 
The book contains a wealth of information on using foraged plants as well as spices and herbs to treat illness, soothe anxiety, boost the immune system and treat the skin along with many other uses. A recipe I'm excited to try is for a 'Calendula Salve' which uses the orange flower pictured above in a balm to soothe dry and cracked skin.
Colourful American birds

I also painted a series of still life watercolours that didn't quite make it into the final publication but that I thought I'd share below, because I quite like them (and waste not want not!).

An At-Home Herbalist Pharmacy

 Tasks to Do Around the Home

And there you have it. A big project that took up many months last year, which has cumulated in a book I'm extremely excited to take some time out with, with a cup of tea and a cosy corner. It's always a pleasure to work with independent and interesting clients, and Wilder Quarterly publish content that's "for people enthralled by the natural and growing worlds....‘a life through the lens of the growing world’— indoors and out, culture, travel, food and design." Which sounds just about perfect to me.

Buy the book here.

(P.S Many more botanical illustrations to share - but I'll include them in an up-coming post!)

Monday, 7 September 2015

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig

Butchers Knives & A Bunch of Herbs

Mason Jars for Salt & Pepper

Salami
Some recent work for a local business opening soon in East London - Artisan Cured Meats from Lured & Cured.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Cruelty Free Skincare | CLEANSE | Plus Illustrations

A slightly unusual blog post from me today, on a subject that I don't presume to be the most knowledgeable about. Skincare. Beauty. Cosmetics.

I don't claim to be an expert, mainly because my most authentic self is a bit of a slob. In an ideal world I'd never have to make myself presentable and do any of this preening but someone somewhere set the bar of how groomed we modern humans should aim to be, and that means that I at least need to wash my face.

So I do. And I quite like the routine I've designed for myself, which is surprising. The turning point for me came when I decided to go cruelty-free with my cosmetics. It is completely unacceptable in my eyes, to allow animals to suffer & live in misery, for the sake of a few frivolous lotions & potions. I don't want to associate with companies that allow their products to be tested on animals - to me that's like poking a rabbit in the eye on a daily basis.

So here are my favourite cruelty-free products. They might not be vegan, but they bypass that hurting-animals-with-chemicals thing, and I've been surprised at how much I've enjoyed using them, despite my slobish ways.
Camomile Cleansing Butter | The Body Shop

I take a blob of this and massage it into my face and it just dissolves my makeup. It's very satisfactory, there's no scrubbing necessary, and if you have sensitive skin like I do that tends to be sore after a day in the elements or in makeup, this is such a soothing relief. I use a hot muslin cloth to wipe the butter and the makeup away.
Foaming Face Wash | Green People
This smells amazing, like geraniums on a summer's morn. Kind of. Also its the perfect wash if you have sensitive, slightly dry skin that is sometimes prone to spots or shine. I've found my skin is much less oily and I've had fewer spots since using this.
Glow Tonic | Pixi
I think this has got to be one of my favourite skincare discoveries since I started seeking out cruelty-free brands. At first I was a bit sceptical, but within about a week of using it, my skin was brighter, smoother, and the annoying under-the-skin-bump/spot that I'd had for about a year disappeared. Amazing! There are a few things to bear in mind whilst using it though - a) if you have sensitive skin, once a day may be better and b) sunscreen is extra important as the toner can make skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Another tip - if you are concerned about the need for not-very-environmentally-friendly cotton wool pads - I bought some reusable cotton rounds from amazon. They are supposed to be breast feeding pads but they're perfect for applying the toner. Just wash and reuse!

I hope you found this helpful! Stay tuned for part two about the cruelty-free oils and moisturisers I use as part of my skincare routine - or watch the illustrated video I made below!





Thursday, 25 June 2015

A Day In The Life Of A Freelance Illustrator | Videos!



I have another video on my youtube channel which is another Day In The Life video featuring a busy Monday with a couple of deadlines and lots of painting!

I hope you enjoy watching and if you have any questions or comments please do leave them in the comments of my video and I'll try to answer them.

You can also subscribe to my channel to stay updated with my newest videos - I really enjoy making them so there should be more coming soon although they usually take a long, long time to make - longer than I'd care to admit!

You can also find my previous Day In The Life video below!



Monday, 15 June 2015

Beachcombing - Seaside Illustrations for Housing Development




Today I'm sharing a set of 30 illustrations I created for PegasusLife for a new development planned in Dawlish, on the Devon Coast. These illustrations will be used across multiple applications – including national and local press, marketing publications, digital marketing, and potentially site hoardings. So it's pretty exciting!

These paintings were made with the intention of being blown up quite large (almost human sized!) - which is a pretty exhilarating prospect. But, as these things so often go, movement on this project has been very, very slow. So currently I'm only able to share the paintings in their "natural state". I hope you like them!

Red Crab in Watercolour

Feather Illustration

Message in a Bottle

Shell in Watercolour

Shell with Barnacles

Open Shell in Watercolor

Starfish Illustration in Watercolour

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Month of May | New Vlog & A Bit of a Confession

May was a bit of a strange inside-my-own-head month for me. Work finally began to pick up so I was very busy with commissions, but I had this real sense of unease the whole time. It was almost a guilty feeling.

Have you ever been so inspired and motivated, only to have it bubble over into guilt and anxiety? Because that's what happened to me last month. I was extremely busy with new commissions that I've so desperately needed after a bit of a dry spell, but I wasn't very happy. Usually my happy place is painting, lots and lots of painting, and so surely I should have been happy to be being paid to do this?

But during May I became obsessed with bettering myself. I became obsessed with the future, and trying to secure my own one. I think after months of thumb-twiddling and worrying slightly that I might not be able to afford rent, I wanted to make sure that it doesn't happen again. I came to this conclusion whilst knowing full well that the second half of the year has always been where I've made my money, and that it always works out ok. The guilt came into play because I never felt I had enough time to achieve the goals I set myself. Try as I may, I found that annoying things such as "sleep" and "paid work" came between me and my impossible goals.

The video I put together didn't in any way convey this, and in a way, I'm glad. I want to forget this horrible feeling I've had, and enter June with a sense of optimism and inspiration, without all of the pressure. I must remind myself I'm only human, and there needs to be a balance between work and play.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

BURGERS BURGERS BURGERS BURGERS | Watercolour Illustrations

The idea of a burger as an iconic image is something I've come to accept and understand. I don't even eat red meat. I can't recall the last time I sunk my teeth into a bread bun filled with a juicy meat patty, but I assume it was long before burgers became such an important part of our dining society. But I get it. They've come a long way from the frozen isle in the supermarket, and now any self respecting restaurnat has its own take on what is essentially, a meat sandwich.

Regardless, they make pretty amazing subject matters to paint. This was a project for New York Magazine, to paint 15 "signature" burgers from around the world. The selection you see above contains burgers from the US, Australia, Zanzibar, Portugal, Japan, Afghanistan and more!- but can you guess which is which?

See the illustrations in situ on the New York Magazine website.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Two New Book Covers! | Watercolour Illustrations

 
Today I'm happy to reveal two books I worked on towards the end of last year. It was great fun working with Design By Atlas on the design of the covers, and their brief was just right up my street. Painting food and cooking equipment is something I delight in, so although the deadline was extremely tight and I missed a lot of sleep - I look back on this project with fond memories. What's more, I am pretty darn pleased with the end result - these are beautifully printed books!




The journals are published by Laurence King for Magma Books, and will be in shops in a few months time. Follow me on twitter where I'll be sure to announce when they become available!


Monday, 18 May 2015

Homegrown Goodness | Watercolour Illustrations


A full page watercolour illustration, to accompany an article on growing your own fruit and vegetables in the garden - for Bon Magazine. I wish I could have seen this in print, but as so often happens in my line of work - I never received my copy!

This commission was perfectly timed for me - as I have just embarked on trying to grow my own fruit and vegetables. I was able to choose what I wanted to paint, so long as it was summery, so I chose strawberries, peas, cucamelons and courgette flowers - and painted them as vibrant and as nutritious as I hope my crop will be!


If you'd like to see how I painted this piece, I filmed some of it's progress in my week-long vlog, to be found on my youtube channel!

Do you grow your own? I'd love to read some tips & tricks!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Gallipoli Illustration for Gourmet Traveller Magazine | Watercolour Landscape

Yesterday I was updating you all about my recent trip to Sri Lanka, when I realised I hadn't updated this space in rather a long time. It might appear that I have given up on my illustration career all together - but fear not, because... I haven't.

Speaking of fear, below is a recent piece I worked on for the Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine. I was a little fearful of this brief, because it involved a) a landscape and b) conveying a story. Typically I am most at home painting things that are right in front of my eyes; things like food, faces, animals and objects. When I have to illustrate any more than this I panic slightly.

The article that accompanied this illustration was about visiting the Gallipoli peninsula, which is steeped in history surrounding the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I. The author couldn't help but think of the many men that had lost their lives on such a beautiful coastline.

Hopefully my illustration conveys this message. I breathed a little sigh of relief when I finished it, as I think I surprised myself. I had painted a landscape that I didn't hate.




I'd love your thoughts! Should I paint more landscapes? Where's a good place to start for a landscape beginner such as myself?

Monday, 27 April 2015

My Trip to Sri Lanka (HD Video) | April 2015



In the first two weeks of April we travelled to Sri Lanka.

On our first night, after a long-haul flight and 8 hours on a bumpy train, we reached the base of the sacred mountain of Adams Peak, at 2am. The climb was tortuous to say the least, but seeing the locals undefeated by a lack of shoes, old age or babies in tow, we were ashamed of our exhaustion and pushed on to the top. We watched the sun rise on shaking legs and in awe of our surroundings.

Next we visited the city of Kandy, where we rested our tired muscles and watched thunderstorms and fruit bats zig-zag over the lake. Kandy was our base from which we visited the hot, hot plains of Dambulla and Sigiriya, to see ancient cave temples and the ruins of a civilisation on top of a giant rock formation. Our english skins did not do well in the heat - heat rash and mosquito bites ran riot on our bodies as we packed into crowded local buses to get around. Friendly Sri Lankans quickly offered up their seats, the first of many acts of kindness we experienced on the island.

From Kandy we took the train to the hill country where the climate was like that of a perfect, English summer - my skin breathed a sigh of relief!  In Ella we woke to amazing views of the hills, and the mews of a two week old puppy living beside our room. We  took a tour of the nearby tea factory, for the first time seeing the source of the drink we consume every day. The smell of freshly picked tea leaves was intoxicating!

From the hills, we travelled down to Tissa , and stayed beside the huge lake - filled , we were later told, by giant crocodiles! We borrowed bikes from our guesthouse and explored the remote dirt roads, through rice fields and tropical fruit plantations. At night we feasted on crab curry and local rum.

Early one morning we hired a jeep and drove to Yala National Park for a meeting with the wild and elusive Mr leopard, which we spotted eventually before he slunk off to hide from the rain. And on to Tangalle, to our beach accommodation - bungalows by the sea. The beach was like a film set, bowing palm trees and sunsets more saturated than any filter could produce. We ate some amazing prawns and baked fish, looking out at the ocean they'd been caught from that very morning. One night we watched a sea turtle haul herself out of the sea to dig a nest. She was huge and beautiful.

Our last stops were Unawatuna, and finally, Galle. We spent a few days under the scorching sun exploring the colonial streets and eating egg hoppers.

Lastly we visited a protected beach in Kosgoda. A 3000 LKR donation to the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project meant we could release our very own bucket of 20 feisty sea turtle hatchlings into the sea. We watched them make their first journey, just as ours was ending.

I hope you enjoyed this video! If you ever get the opportunity - visit Sri Lanka! It was a beautiful island, bursting at the seams with wildlife, and the people were some of the most friendly we've ever met. I miss it so much already.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Illustrator's Advice | Video on Finding Inspiration

Hello! Just a quick update for you today to alert you to a number of new videos I've posted over on my Youtube channel.

I recently put together a video about finding motivation and inspiration through the darkest of days (namely January and February!) and some tips I find helpful for generating ideas and producing self-initiated work when paid work slows down.

Hope you find it useful and enjoyable to watch! Please subscribe if you're new and, as always, leave any suggestions on future videos in the comments section as I really appreciate the feedback.


Monday, 16 February 2015

A Pair of Denim Jeans in Watercolour

I actually started this painting about a year ago but hadn't had time to finish it up until a couple of weeks ago. It felt good to complete it - and even better when I was able to sell the painting to a lovely customer!

I'm also selling lots of other original paintings in my etsy shop at the moment. I have a cupboard that is bursting at the seams with watercolours and it is' in need of a clear out so if you'd like to buy some original pieces please do take a look!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

On Doing What You Love & Being Brave

So this morning I woke up in an incredibly chirpy mood. I'm not a morning person in the slightest, and any time before 11am I can most certainly be classified as 'not of this world'. But this morning I am chipper. I am awake, I feel energised and most of all, I feel grateful.

Recently I have had a lot more people than usual reach out to me and tell me about their lives, and mostly about their struggles trying to break into the illustration industry. And the surreal thing is that I feel like I'm reading an email from myself. I relate to the struggle so completely and when I read about their confusion, their worries, and their determination to reach their goals I feel like I'm reading a page in my own diary.

Don't get me wrong, these are not pathetic, whiny emails I am receiving, and before you assume I pity their authors - I do not. I admire them, and I guess that means I have some admiration in myself too. Am I a narcissist then? Perhaps. But really this sense of pride comes from knowing how challenging this industry can be - and that we all have the guts to try and make it within it's highly competitive walls, regardless of this fact.

Having a passion that you want to base your life around is hard. On the one hand, it's a great gift, to have this focus that drives you forward and gives purpose to your days. But on the other hand it's a burden, something that will disappoint you greatly, and drag you down with the sense that you're "failing" if you've not been making your living from it. You will compare yourself to others constantly, you will have very low days where creative block, rejection or exhaustion will swamp you and you'll wonder if this passion is even worth acknowledging.

But here is where the pride comes in. Because did we give up then? In our lowest moment? Surrounded by paintings ripped in half in frustration and our portfolio (my portfolio) spread over the entire bedroom searching in desperation for a piece of work we (I) didn't hate with a passion? No. Something pushes us on. And if you have an ambition, if you have an ambition to be an illustrator, you will grow strong again and keep on fighting.

Aside from all this war talk, I do believe illustrators to be some of the most determined folk out there because it really does take a lot of work to make money from this career path, and you will have a long and gruelling task to make it into freelancing. Amid all the angst you've still got to perform, there's no hiding away. An illustrator's job description requires you to produce good work, of a high standard, that's interesting, eye-catching, current and new - and that necessitates a lot of bravery in the face of failure. You're putting a little bit of yourself out there for everyone to see and make a judgement on - it's got to be authentically yours, but it's got to be authentically the client's too. Everyone knows this fact by now, and yet their are so many people out there creating new work and hoping for the future because, like me, it is the only occupation they can imagine undertaking.

So, if you are questioning if you are working hard enough/are good enough/are relevant enough to be an illustrator, I say: YOU ARE! Be narcissist like me and feel proud that you're still trying and you haven't given up like thousands before you. Not everyone chooses to face so much turmoil in their field of work, and perhaps I am dramatising it slightly, but when you're in the midst of a creative block, or under pressure from a challenging commission - the struggle is REAL!

When I have bad days, where I wonder where my skill in watercolour has disappeared to and I find myself comparing my small successes to other peoples monumental ones, I tell myself to "keep on trucking". It's a ridiculous phrase and I'm not sure where I acquired it from but it reminds me that I've been "trucking" for about 6 years now and I don't intend to stop. Yes I will face more failures in the future and more low points spent ripping paintings in two, but I will always try again because it's the only thing I want to do.

It takes a whole lot of bravery to pursue what you love in life, and bravery trumps it all.


My Art Supplies | Reccomendations on Watercolour & My Favourite Art Shop

This week I'm talking about my tried and tested art materials - and they're all amazing value for money! As always, I SO appreciate suggestions on future videos, as I'm just starting out on Youtube and trying to gauge what my audience might like to see!



Please do click the "thumbs up" button if you found this video helpful and please subscribe if you are a fellow Youtube watcher such as myself. Whilst I'm asking for things - who do you subscribe to on Youtube? Can you recommend any interesting channels?

Thanks for watching! See more illustration and pug related videos on my channel.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Painting a Greyhound | Watercolour Illustrations

January was a month of movie-making (well, youtube video making...) and I must admit I've had a surprising amount of fun learning how. It's something that I've wanted to try out for a long time but I've never really had the time - so I'm completely relishing the opportunity now, and hope to be able to make it a regular part of my year.

I started thinking seriously about it when I first got Quentin, as every moment with him as a young puppy was worth filming (in my eyes anyway!) But as anyone who's ever had an 8 week puppy will know, there was no time between the toilet training, the waking through the night and the watching over him with beady eyes, to buy a camera, yet alone edit and upload videos.

But now he's older and (slightly) less of a hand-full, I'm enjoying capturing moments with and without him. I have a few exciting travel plans this year that I will be documenting this way, and I'd like to make some more illustration based videos too, showing paintings being created and offering advice when I can - much like I try to do here!

I hope you enjoy watching my latest upload - featuring Quentin the pug as per usual, and more painting as requested!



Please do let me know what you think - any requests for future videos?!

Subscribe to my channel.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Lets Get To Know Each Other



I was appointed by one of my lovely blog readers Rachel Wright (along with Heart Handmade , Work Play , Travel Write Draw and Carly Watts ) to answer these questions and follow the chain by tagging more bloggers to answer my 11 questions (and so on and so forth and so on). I sometimes find these chains a fun thing to do, to discover new bloggers and read something a little different. I hope you do too!

1. How did you come up with your blog name?

Not very interesting answer to start with - it's just my name!

2.When and why did you start blogging?

I just had to check - but my first ever blog post was created in 2009! Six years ago! I was a first or second year student at uni, and I wanted somewhere to record my progression into illustration. 


3. What are your goals for 2015?



See more. Work more. Grow vegetables.

4. Who is your biggest inspiration?

I don't think I have a definitive answer - I would like to have someone, an idol, who I can turn to when things get tough or confusing and ask "what would such-and-such do?". But sadly there's not one person I am consistently inspired by. In general though, I'd say it's female artists throughout history. Frida Khalo, Beatrix Potter, Paula Rego being my top ladies!


5. What’s your favourite thing to wear in your closet?


I have a love/hate relationship with the contents of my wardrobe as I can never quite trust my clothes not to make me feel fat and frumpy whenever they choose to.


6.What's your favorite possession?

My dog, Quentin. He's not my possession, in fact he probably owns me, but he's the best thing I've ever parted with money for.

7. If you could choose, what decade would you have grown up in?


This is probably a very common response - the 1960's. The clothes, the interiors, the music, the peace and love.


8. What's your party trick?


Being socially awkward and befriending the pets instead.


9. What is your earliest childhood memory?


My next door neighbour (who I was convinced I was going to marry one day) making faces at me through the dining room window whilst I ate dinner.

 

10. If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

Outside. Walking the dog, exploring new parts of Epping Forest, probably filming said dog for my youtube channel.


11. What is the most played song on your ipod?

Silence. I don't have an ipod and my music taste has disintegrated. I much prefer radio in my old age.




Thank you once again to Rachel for nominating me! I think this is a great way of getting to know fellow bloggers, finding new blogs and giving your own blog a bit of a boost! It was nice to write a little bit topic from what I normally blog about - a little more personal, a little less illustration.

Hope you enjoyed reading! I'd like to nominate these lovely, creative people, who's blogs I follow avidly! (creeper):

Fran from frannerdsblog.blogspot.co.uk

Harriet from helloharriet.com/blog

Ella from ellamasters.co.uk

Hannah from raisinheart.com

Ron from Dresses On a Clothes Line

And the questions are:

1.  Would you rather never have internet access again or never be able to travel outside your home country again?
2. What's your naughtiest habit during your working day?
3. Where do you do most of your people-watching?
4. On average, what time of day are you most happy and content?
5. What are some of your strangest pet peeves?
6. If you could choose, which decade would you have grown up in?
7.  Would you rather be Penny Crayon or have Bernards Watch? (apologies if this is a bit obscure - google it!)
8. Where can you be found at a big house party?
9. Which talent do you most envy in others?
10. When and why did you start your blog?
11. What are your goals for 2015?

Friday, 23 January 2015

A Day in The Life of an Illustrator

Another video was made this week. A day in the life video, in which I paint a basket of dandelions,  try and fail to do yoga without being attacked, and cook a vegetarian feast!

I hope you enjoy watching - it was a bit nerve-wracking to look directly into a camera and speak coherently, but I hope you appreciate my efforts!

Please do like (thumbs up!) and subscribe to my channel, as I'm hoping to make this a more regular thing.




I'd love to know your thoughts on what I should film next! What would you like to see more of? I'm thinking of making a few more instructional videos on how to use watercolour, my tips, and my favourite art materials. Might anyone be interested in this?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Food Illustrations for Esquire Magazine



A Spread at Russ & Daughters, New York

Crazy Bloody Mary
Ramen Burger - yay or nay?
Protein Pyramid!
Last year I was approached by Esquire Magazine to produce some illustrations for a Food and Drinks Awards feature in the US edition of the magazine.

As you can see I got to paint an interesting selection of subjects. I loved painting the bloody mary - which I couldn't believe actually existed - but apparently 2014 was the year of the obscenely stacked bloody mary, complete with hot dog, asparagus and prawn kebab. My mouth is kind of watering?

As well as the bloody mary illustration, I also painted a ramen burger (I must meet someone who's tried one!) and a table top spread from the infamous New York restaurant Russ & Daughters.

Lastly their was an article about protein - and a complaint of its recent use across restaurant menus - apparently "unappetizing". I chose to paint a pyramid of farm animals, an array of protein, as I wanted the illustration to be light-hearted and silly.

Hope you like this set of food illustrations!