Friday, December 27, 2019

Sketchbook tour

I forgot to share it sooner, but I finally posted a sketchbook tour for YouTube! I've actually got another one waiting to be uploaded too, as this video took me so long to edit. I'm looking forward to getting more into YouTube in 2020.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Recent artworks

joker joaquin phoenix portrait sketch
mika ballpoint portrait sketch
aaron tveit ballpoint portrait sketch

I've been drawing a lot of portraits lately as I find it fun and it's good to draw things for me, but it's something I always feel a little unsure of sharing as although I'm proud of them I don't want people thinking it's part of my 'brand' as an illustrator. It's a whole side of art business that I struggle with honestly, as it feels nowadays like you have to have your one aesthetic and stick to it but I'd get so bored! And honestly I think it's good to be versatile. But saying that, I don't think I'd ever want to do portraits as commissions as it'd no doubt lead to drawing people I don't care about which wouldn't be fun for me, so I keep them as just a hobby.

I used to draw portraits quite a lot with pencils, but because I'm a perfectionist I hated them if they weren't super photo realistic and it really sucked the fun out of it. So last year I began drawing them with ballpoint pens, something that scared me silly at the beginning as it's so permanent so there's obviously no way of erasing if you make a mistake, but it's actually really liberating and I feel I've learnt a lot from being forced to work with my mistakes. Because these are just for fun, they're all in my sketchbook. The top is Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, as it's turned out to be my favourite movie of the year and I'm lowkey obsessed. Second is Mika which is mt favourite of the three (look at those pinstripes!!), and lastly is Aaron Tveit which whilst I like, I had issues with my pen blobbing while I was drawing it (why do they do this though??)

And here's two other illustrations I've been working on. Above is from the Broadway adaptation of Moulin Rouge, and it's how they end Act 1 with Elephant Love Medley. I'm not keen on how the song has been reworked honestly, but visually it's amazing, and I had fun trying to translate specific people into my art style whilst still making it look like them, as usually I draw fictional characters so likeness isn't so important.

And this is from the finale scene of Wicked, and uh, spoiler alert? But Fiyero gets turned into the Scarecrow and I've always felt like he gets vastly overlooked within fan circles when this is a huge thing he goes through and a major sacrifice. I've always felt particularly attached to Fiyero though after reading the novel, his character is a lot more developed in that so I guess if you haven't read it it's easy not to care about what happens to him as he doesn't have a lot of stage time. This is actually a reworking of an art piece I did a year ago, which was in the midst of when I was finding my style, and because I was working on so much artwork at that time it felt outdated for how I was working even then. I really loved the concept though, and knew I wanted to revisit it at some point so I'm glad I now have a version to be proud of and feels more cohesive with my body of work.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Completing Inktober

I've completed Inktober! I can't quite believe it to be honest, I didn't actually have much hope that I'd complete the whole month. I figured I'd manage to keep up with the first week then fall behind, get overwhelmed, and quit. And I didn't! And what's more, I've really enjoyed my Inktober experience. Like I explained in my previous post, I haven't technically done Inktober 'properly' - I ignored the prompt list for two thirds of the month, and I've worked in more mediums than just ink (but I did mostly use ink). But mastering ink was never my goal, sticking to a prompt list was never my goal and was only there to fall back on. My goals were to simply draw every day to get back into a more productive workflow and just see where that took me, and hopefully through the act of drawing every day to become less of a perfectionist with my work. And now I'm at the other end of it looking back, I thought I'd share what the experience has taught me, along with a selection of the pieces I've created.

Top: 04 + 05 - Pruitt from Big Sky | Bottom: 02 - Inktober prompt 'mindless'

The biggest lesson of all this month was simply that sitting down to draw doesn't have to be a big deal.
Often I'll procrastinate opening my sketchbook as I only have an hour or so and feel like that's not enough time, but I've realised that it is more than enough so long as I use that time wisely. I've also realised that even if I don't feel like drawing when I begin, I will once I actually start. And because drawing is no longer such a big deal, it's resulted in me drawing more. I've knocked out two portraits this month, which is usually something I'd think about for about a week prior and feel like I had to set aside a full day to create, but I just got on and did it and I really enjoyed the process. I guess I'm just learning to let go and doodle better instead of only drawing full-blown illustrations, and that's definitely a good thing!

07 + 08 - Inktober prompts 'enchanted' and 'snow'

Because my drawing time had been so sporadic and it had usually been a few weeks since I last drew anything, I'd always start by feeling rusty and unsure of my abilities and so wasted time warming up. This not only ate into my drawing time, but it also meant that I had to come up with ideas for a warm up sketch on top of what I already wanted to draw, and the whole process resulted with me feeling exhausted before I'd even begun. Getting into the habit of drawing every day has definitely loosened me up, and because of this ideas have been coming much more freely as I can just jump straight in with whatever I want to do. I didn't end up using too many of the Inktober prompts as they were only there for days I got stuck, and I didn't end up having many of those because the more I was drawing, the more ideas I was having, and because my work was looser I was able to crack out more ideas than I ever felt possible.

Top: 14 - Inktober prompt 'dragon' | Bottom: 17 + 18 - Joker inspired illustrations

I did find myself struggling for ideas here and there, but during those times I allowed inspiration to come from life and the things around me instead of going looking for ideas and becoming frustrated. For example, the Joker movie gave me a lot of inspiration this month as I absolutely loved it and wanted to draw fan art. And by allowing myself to draw things that I cared about, I wanted to draw more and more rather than feeling like I was only drawing because I had to. I'm really glad I decided to exclude social media presence from my challenge too, as that allowed me to be completely self-indulgent with what I was creating without any judgement!

I think the biggest surprise for me throughout this month is just how much work I've managed to create, which I know sounds a little silly as it was obvious from the very beginning that I'd have around 31 pieces of art if I managed to complete it, but saying that versus physically seeing that work in my sketchbook is an entirely different kettle of fish. I've never filled out a sketchbook at this speed, and it's an exhilarating feeling! I'm used to flicking back over my sketchbook and seeing work I've created months ago, not weeks or even days ago! I also like how it's helping me keep track of time. Often months pass by in a flash and I wonder where the time has gone, but I feel October has gone at a much slower pace as every single day I've been taking note of the date and been fully present as a result. And as someone who suffers with severe anxiety, that's been a really nice side effect and helped my mental health a lot!

Top: 20 - reference of vintage ballet dancers from Pinterest. 21 - Inktober prompt 'treasure'
Bottom: 24 - Illustration inspired by Joker

Parts of Inktober have definitely been a little stressful at times, but it was entirely self-inflicted. Part of the draw of the challenge for me was to fill up a good chunk of my sketchbook quickly, and that was actually a good drive as I was actively measuring my progress by how much I'd completed. But it also meant that I was getting a bit stressed when I had to miss days as I wasn't filling my sketchbook fast enough, and the pressure I put on myself to draw every day meant that other hobbies and interests had to be put aside.

I really want to continue drawing after October. Not every day, but I've shown myself what I can do and I don't want to lose these good habits that I've built. I'm a little nervous I'll run out of ideas, but I'd rather cross that bridge if and when I come to it! Plus I have a whole heap of things I want to digitally colour and turn into proper illustrations from all of this, so there's always that too!

Top: 25 - An OC. 26 - Fiyero inspired (I drew a lot of scarecrows, I guess I was inspired by autumn ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
Middle: 27 - Autumn inspired motifs, and practising Cyrillic
Bottom: 27 + 28 - Joker inspired illustrations. I said there was a lot!

Monday, September 30, 2019

#Harvest Tales + New Shop Items

There hasn't been much activity from me on the art front lately as August was mostly spent planning, preparing for and then travelling to New York, followed by being terribly ill for a full month after I got back! So I haven't really felt much like drawing and have been trying to ease myself back into the habit while I got better, especially as I plan on doing Inktober this year for the first time ever.

Inktober's not something I've ever taken part in before as I'm usually put off by how competitive and commercialised it's gotten, I'm really not interested in any of that side of it and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In fact October is probably my least favourite time to be an artist on social media as I'm so bored with the whole concept after three days of it filling up my entire feed! But I happened upon the prompt list and for once I actually felt quite inspired by it, and as I've had such a dry spell it feels like a good way to improve my practise and build good habits. And when I think of it like that, I'm really excited for it!

I don't plan on sharing all of my illustrations throughout the month as I think it can be toxic to share everything and I think that's why so many turn it into a competition, whether intentionally or not. My biggest learning curve this past year has been that not everything I create has to be up for public consumption, and it's much more liberating to create things for my own eyes only. When you don't have that pressure of needing to share, you're more inclined to take risks and experiment, which is exactly the point of the Inktober challenge to me, not to pre-prepare 31 perfect illustrations in advance which I see no artistic merit to.

Throughout September there's been an art tag on Instagram called #HarvestTales which felt right up my alley, and as it only required one artwork per week it felt like a perfect way to ease myself into designing illustrations around prompt words. I tried to keep it themed by having a central character of a Scarecrow (who may or may not look familiar from my Fiyero drawings...), which I liked as having that allowed me to think of the prompts within that character, and I hoped it might feel a bit more narrative driven than by simply having four separate illustrations. One of my favourite works I've created so far is my Folktale Week sketchbook from last November, and I think a big part of why it works for me is because it has so much cohesion. I didn't want to turn this into as huge a project as that was though, as that wouldn't be easing myself into things at all!

This was my first illustration, with the prompt "flowers and herbs". To be honest I don't love it. I was determined to work traditionally as I didn't want it to be as polished as digital, and also as my previous Folktale Week artworks had been traditional and I used the same methods. But honestly I don't like how this illustration came out that much!! I don't know if I've over shaded it or tried to be too detailed, but it feels like I've taken 10 steps back in my style into territory I've tried to get away from. This year I've really worked on simplifying my work away from the realistic perfectionist mindset I was trapped in before and I really love where it's taken me, but this just isn't it. I still like the idea of the sunflowers comforting the sad Scarecrow (I was inspired by the Pink Floyd song Scarecrow, especially the line "The black and green scarecrow is sadder than me, But now he's resigned to his fate" which I've always related to Fiyero's story arc) and the general idea, just not the execution in this case. Even the colours just don't feel right.

I actually skipped week 2 which had the prompt word "Scarecrow", partly as I was really ill that week, partly because I was feeling kind of disheartened from the previous week, so technically this illustration is week 3 which had the prompt "night creature". I wanted to really take advantage of the challenge being called harvest tales, whilst also making it slightly spooky as I felt the prompts were leaning in that direction (and honestly "spooky harvest" sums up my whole aesthetic!). I stripped the style right back to absolute simplicity, and was inspired by a video by DrawingWiffWaffles where she'd drawn with a coloured ballpoint pen and coloured it with pastel Copic markers to create a monotone effect. And it proved to be just the inspiration I needed as I love how this turned out, and used the same method for the final illustration but knocked it up a gear.

The prompt was "spirits", and I added a little white gel pen and yellow colouring pencil. It's definitely my favourite of the lot! I'm even thinking of only using ballpoint pen for the whole of Inktober as it's ink, and I've really fallen in love with the versatility and simplicity of it. Who needs overly expensive Inktober targeted art supplies when you can just use a 50p biro!

I've also had an exciting shipment of products I ordered! I've wanted to create charms for a while, and my Wicked illustrations felt like they'd lend themselves perfectly. They're 6cm tall acrylic charms with holographic effect on one side (so as not to obscure the illustration too much, but still keeping it sparkly!) I'm delighted with how they've turned out! There's 5 designs in total, and I have a limited quantity right now because it's kind of terrifying plunging money into stock when you don't know when you'll earn that money back! So the more I sell, the more I can invest back into my shop with even more exciting products. I hope you like them as much as I do, they're available in my Etsy store now!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Elphaba + Glinda

"And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend"

Available on RedBubble here.

It's rare for me, but this is one illustration I specifically drew to turn into products. Usually I work the other way around and try and figure out how to fit finished pieces into certain items. I'm very excited to get this made into what I have in mind, but in the meantime you can order it on a few bits on RedBubble. I've actually placed an order with RedBubble myself, so I'll be sure to report back with a review of their products soon!

Friday, July 12, 2019


These are a few Wicked pieces I've been working on that I'd forgotten to update with here, and will bring my blog up to date with my current work. I like to have it all over here as I can better record my thought processes than in a simple Instagram caption.

This is fairly straight forward, a scene from the musical after 'For Good'. I don't really consider it a spoiler as it happens in The Wizard of Oz too! I just think it's incredibly sad that, as far as Glinda is aware her best friend and only true ally is dead and she has to hide and pretend she isn't there whilst it happens. Glinda's story arc is so heartbreaking, and it's sad how she's so often dismissed as just being a ditz. Elphaba and Fiyero may be fugitives, but at least they get to go on and live their own lives together. Whereas Glinda's left thinking everyone she's ever loved is dead, and has to watch everyone celebrating that fact whilst keeping the lie alive.

This was drawn from a production still. I kind of set the wrong mood for it with them smiling, as they're literally plastering on smiles over their own heartbreaks BUT I drew this whilst watching Eurovision so I think you can understand why I was distracted from the tone. Also quite frankly I drew it as I wanted something cute and pretty of my favourite characters and wasn't trying to draw anything deep. It was my first go at colouring them with my Copic markers too, so that was fun trying to translate my digital palette.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Snow Queen

This is a bit of a throw back, but I realised when scrolling through my Instagram feed that there's a few pieces I forgot to share over here, so the next few posts will be of older pieces to get caught up.

For this post I just wanted to share this illustration from back in winter. I have a long personal history with the original story of The Snow Queen, certainly long before Frozen stole my heart. It's always been my favourite fairy tale for no deep reason other than it's a good adventure tale, and I've collected various book editions and film adaptations of it throughout the years. In my foundation degree back in 2010, to finish the course we had to write our own brief and mine was to illustrate a full 32 page book of The Snow Queen. Which ended up taking me on quite an adventure, as it even involved traveling around the country to see some real life reindeer to study as well as translating and condensing Andersen's original text whilst still keeping the integrity of the original story (as it was a picture book so had to be simplified)

I still have that book somewhere, and I have a lot of mixed feelings looking at it. I put so much work into it, but obviously being over 9 years ago now my style and ability has drastically improved so it's a little embarrassing in some respects. This piece was drawn straight into my iPad (I usually draw the initial sketch traditionally) and was just revisiting the character of The Snow Queen herself. I didn't put a whole lot of thought into it other than trying to improve upon my original idea, whilst also trying NOT to subconsciously make it resemble Elsa.

I'd love to finalise some designs some day, perhaps with Gerda and Kai too. Maybe I'll even redo my whole book!
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