Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cards & Questions

I'm putting together another order for prints of my work, 
if anyone has any particular faves, I would love to hear from you, and if there are enough votes, I'll make it into a print! 
(You don't have to buy it, but it would help the heart of Borneo project!)

here are a few possibilities... 
I'm thinking of leaving the speech bubbles blank so that people can customise them.

A questionable tamandua

Raucous toucan (speech bubble to be added)

Silent Harpy Eagle (probably no speech bubble necessary, he is a bird of few words.)

Also, I've put up a ton of new stuff on my website, and changed hosts so that I can actually update it more frequently! I think I've resolved a few problems with it too, but there are bound to be more. In the future I will change the scrolling thing to just sets of thumbnails you can flick through, but for now, you can use the leaf arrow at the bottom to go to the next image by clicking on it, or scrolling down through the images and clicking on the thumbnails.

Also, my business cards arrived today! Hooray. 100% recycled too. Yes :)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

CARNIVAL & Other Odds & Ends

Its been a tough weekend. I am harder on myself than anyone else. My room is a direct correlation to the state of my mind. If it is messy and dark, so is my mind. If it is tidy and light, so is my mind. 
I'm having energy troubles at the moment, the motor is breaking down, my body seemingly not wanting to cooperate at all. Hibernation, restoration and recuperation... but from what?
I haven't been taxing my body very hard at all lately... haven't been running, not been doing much work at the hotel, or much work at uni. But still my legs ache, and I can't find my motivation. 

I think the stress of third year is slowly getting to me... or should I say, rather quickly.
I don't think it is the actual task of painting or doing projects, because I'm pretty sure I could put together a portfolio with 20 pages of work if I could include whatever projects (not necessarily relating). But getting a coherent portfolio? Work that I previously thought I might be able to put in there, I probably won't be able to. 
BUT I have to remember that this is just the beginning, and I already have something lined up for after university. So it isn't so big a deal. I already network, I already do the things that we will be doing in New York. The portfolio will come in time, and it will be changed a million times!

So not to worry really.
But I do.

Sometimes it is hard to get around thinking that the end of uni is the end of your free life...
Not if you don't want it to be. Don't settle for a 9-5 job, although they might help you along the way. 
Aspire to experiences, not wealth, aspire to relationships, not things.
Declutter, and you should find some freedom.
We aren't fixed to any location if we don't want to be. We can live in the world itself. 

All the mumbo jumbo aside, here are some random pieces of work that I have had laying around.

The raw painting of the quotes book

Lily (1 day paint sketch)
Maybe I will complete it someday?

Having trouble with greens again. Still so hard to get right!

 Some sketches from somewhere, quite like my bongo man, good amount of detail, but also good amount of looseness.

Carnival, some lettering I did a while ago for nothing in particular, painted up tonight.

So, some loose ends tied up. 
Goodnight one and all.
Haircut on the morrow!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Zoo Sketching, Painting & Amphib Talk

A few weeks ago I visited Paignton Zoo, it was a beautifully sunny day, and the reptile house was boiling. Perfect conditions to simulate Borneo (although I figure that I'll adjust to the heat in Borneo before I actually get down to field sketching.)

This is all part of preparation for field sketching. Because I will be working in field, sometimes whilst on transect (wandering in the jungle looking for creatures) I needed to test out my new field kit.

 Watercolour Moleskine (A4) 
Gives a nice amount of space to create well composed spreads, though can be large and slightly unwieldy to hold. I will most likely be taking an A4 size moleskine (watercolour) and an A5 watercolour moleskine. I find that using moleskines are far easier, as most of the watercolour pads I find are either ring bound, or come in gummed format, so you are far more likely to lose sheaths of paper. This is far more preferable as you can keep them all together, and I prefer it because it ends up looking like a proper travelers journal.

Plus a watercolour block pad for more detailed work to be done in camp.

Field watercolour kit by Winsor & Newton
I have changed the colours in the set, and bought colours I use more. I am still in the process of trying out different combinations to get the widest array of colours needed in field. (For instance, I thought that I would probably not need white in my field kit, but having taken it out for a test run, realised that i most certainly did for a few things. However, this can be quite rare, so its worth weighing up whether you really will use it a lot, or whether the space in your set would be better with a different colour.) The rest of the colours that I use but don't need in field will go in my bigger enamel Winsor & Newton watercolour set, along with brushes. 
Sadly, this field set doesn't hold any brushes at all, and I will have to carry them separately. I will most likely be taking a bum bag to carry the watercolours, brushes, and sketching materials in. 
Water (must be sterilized, as if using contaminated water, spores may grow and liquify your watercolours... I speak through experience!) If on jungle expeditions you will most likely have a camelback or some form of water pouch with long tube and valve for consumption on the go... this is perfect for filling the water tray seen in the image above. The watercolour set has a built in water flask, but it doesn't hold much water, and it can be quite hard to get out... and if you want to keep refilling the water tray, you have to fiddle about with everything, taking the tray and cap off, filling it up, replacing it... all whilst you have the sketchbook in your hands (still wet from painting)... not an entertaining juggling act at all.
So use your camelback... far far easier.

A watch is always helpful, as you can keep pencils and brushes that you use frequently, pinned under the strap. This stops you from having to constantly forage in your bag, and leaves your hands free for the important stuff.

So, now that the kit is sorted, lets see what you can achieve in a day at the zoo!

Cercosaura argulus
(non zoo sketch) 
Preliminary sketches for a high detail painting of the same lizard.

The Reptile/Amphibian Hot House
(far steamier than I remembered!)

 Blue tongued skinks, vine snake and a yellow footed tortoise

I discovered that I like the marks a brushpen makes, but not the harsh tones of the black, so I have since invested in a grey and sepia version of the pens, and they seem to fit in more nicely without being too harsh.

Crododile Swamp
A really good place to get some more detailed sketching done, as most of the crocs and alligators are basking under their heat lamps during the day. The keepers have even bumped up the temperature to mimic their natural habitat, so the crocs now exhibit mouth gaping behaviour to cool off, when previously the temperature was just right for them, and they just lay there looking like logs, no mouth gaping, no moving, no nothing. Not that they moved at all when I was there. 
I also managed to time my visit perfectly with an evening tour and talk of the amphib/reptile hot house and croc swamp, plus the amphibian ark (where they keep endangered or specialist frog species. Paignton Zoo is the only zoo in the UK that has a collection of Madagascan frog species, and they are fiercely proud of this.) 
When we went into the croc swamp at night it felt a little bit more like how it should feel... a bit more unsettling. The crocs had cooled down, and were in the water, waiting under the bridge, as they knew that this was their feeding time. Sadly, we didn't get to see any feeding, but we were warned to keep our arms inside the bridge, as the big salty could leap out of the water, and tail walk... meaning that even though we were probably more than 6 or 7ft above the where the croc was, he could probably still grab our hands and have a tasty snack. 
It was very interesting to see them on the move, and watching us with all the curiosity in the world. It was like being in jurassic park... or at least it felt a bit more like it. 
They are such beautiful creatures, if you get the chance to watch Ben Fogle go diving with them (BBCiplayer) you should. Its a fantastic watch.

Amphib and Reptile Hatchery


Spider Monkeys

Possibly more of a problem in the jungle... (a bird of some roaming... decided to give a lovely addition to this page of the sketchbook. Hence the smear marks.)

A compilation of the best sketches 

So... thats the first lot of zoo sketches, hopefully a few more to come... this time visiting Newquay Zoo! 
I'm also hoping to head to the Natural History Museum in London, behind the scenes to do some more detailed work, working from preserved specimens.

Fun times ahead, hope this has been a bit useful!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Fundraising for Borneo Expedition

As some of you may know, I will be joining an expedition to Borneo as their natural history illustrator at the end of July. 
I am currently trying to raise as much money as possible for the project, and am doing this via some tasty bake sales, selling prints of my artwork, selling books I no longer need, and running 10k.

I would be hugely appreciative of any sponsors for the 10k, or any donations. Any money that I raise through bake sales and print sales will be put up on there under 'offline donations' so as I can keep track of how much I have raised in total! 

If you would like to buy a print, all the proceeds go towards the fundraising goal. You can buy them online here:

and I will add it to the total for funds raised.

Any small amount helps, and I appreciate any support, whether it be organising events to buying a cake, print, or a sponsorship for the run.

Thanks ever so much everyone!

To Carry On? Or Start Again...

I don't think that I have completed one single painting where I haven't thought somewhere in the process that I would like to throw it out the window, burn it or banish it to a cupboard never to see the light of day again. 

I think that this is an important part of the painting process.
The only time when this actually affects the painting negatively is if you carry on painting when you are too tired and have reached the 'throw it out the window' point, or if you are angry at it and you continue to paint. If you get to this point it is important to take a longish break from that piece. By long-ish I could mean a couple of hours, overnight or a week depending on when your deadline is.
Normally a couple of hours does it.

I think that when we get into the mentality of 'I never want to see this again ever, its the worst thing I have ever done' we aren't really looking at the painting, we are just judging ourselves. Frustration can be blinding, so its important to take time out and gain your sight again.

Currently I'm at the throw it out the window phase with a painting of a house plant. I don't think I have the patience for painting plants. But to be honest, I'm just expecting too much of myself in too small an amount of time. Of course I'm not going to be able to paint like some of the amazing botanical artists that there are out there... when i have hardly drawn/painted any plants in full detail ever!
Of course it is going to be tough, and of course it is going to take me a lot longer to complete it than if I was painting an animal in high detail (seeing as I have more experience painting them) Plants should not be underestimated. no No NO. Far more complex on the outside than a lot of animals... but perhaps that is because I'm used to looking at living things that move. 

Anyway. I will consider this a work in progress and move onto something new for the time being.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Quotes Finished! Le Quattro Volte & Weekend Off!

Blimey! Thank goodness for that. Quotes book is now finished, heralding the last final piece of prescribed work (apart from professional practice! But thats fine.)
I'm pretty pleased with it, as it is one of the first times I think I have successfully done a far away background. There is kinda a midground, and there is a foreground, but mid are fore kinda get mixed up a bit... they weren't lying when they said greens are hard to do and get enough variety within them. 
As much as I'm happy with the painting I don't feel that it is a very serious natural history painting at all, to me it feels more narrative. However, there are lessons to be learned in every painting that you do.

So I will be having a close look over the weekend at natural history scenes and what makes them different to narrative scenes based around the natural world.

So, without further ado,
A final piece! Yay!

"The grass is always greener on the other side"

Can't wait to see everyone's in print! 

Le Quattro Volte is looking to be a fantastic film, I'm waiting for it to arrive, the cinematography looks wonderful!

I've been given the weekend off from work! Hooray! So I can get on with some illustration stuff! Yipee!

Hoping to have a good weekend and another final piece done by the end of next week :D

hope everyone has a great weekend!

over & out

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Better! Quotes & Sayings

Fingers crossed that no illness crosses my path in the next 10 weeks, or I will be rather angry.

Still, I'm feeling much better (vitamins are helping loads!)

And I've managed to restart my quotes and sayings painting seeing as I had started on sub par cartridge paper. There was nothing I could do. So, started again, and I'm feeling far happier. It has also allowed for slight composition tweaks, and some elements to be more thought out.

Here was the first painting

and the second (progress)

populating the scene with fantastic creatures!

Froggy is the favorite at the moment, had a lot of fun painting him today, now just for the rest! going to add in some hummingbirds somewhere, a toucan like creature (aracari) and a vine snake plus some fantastic beetles. 

So thats it for the moment,
Hopefully I can complete it today, tomorrow afternoon between 5-7 then scan and adjust sometime on Thursday, in between baking a million cupcakes, and putting on a big bake sale/raffle/book and print sale! 

Come along to woodlane outside the art shop, and we'll be vending our tasty treats! Pick up some bargain design/illustration books too!