In February our MATS Bootcamp assignment was to design a cover for a journal on the theme of reading tea leaves.
I didn’t know anything about tea leaf reading so I did a bit of research and decided to illustrate some of the symbols that are often looked for when reading someone’s tea leaves. I also hand lettered a quotation about tea from Arthur Wing Pinero.
Since I love making patterns I also used the images I drew to create a new pattern. I couldn’t decide whether I like the dark blue or the pale background so I ended up with one of each.
This week I haven’t had an illustration assignment to do so I’ve been taking some time to just draw. I haven’t used an actual sketchbook regularly in a long time and I realised that I was missing it. Most of the work I’ve done lately has been on loose sheets of paper, which has made it easier to scan. I went through the stack of sketchbooks that I’ve not yet filled and each one was for a different but very specific purpose.
So today I started a new everyday sketchbook. It’s a type that I haven’t used before – a Seawhite of Brighton watercolour travel journal. My plan is simply to fill a page every day – or most days at least – with whatever I feel like drawing or painting.
We’ve had a hint that our next MATS Bootcamp assignment will have something to do with ‘faces’. For some reason I tend to avoid drawing faces because they feel so difficult but I think it was Tommy Kane who I once heard say that it’s not about being able to draw a particular type of thing, because it’s all drawing – observing something and translating that through your pen or pencil to the page.
So as uncomfortable as it might feel, I’ve started practising drawing faces this week. The first I did on loose paper and the second one is on the first page of my new sketchbook. My ultimate goal would be to loosen up and draw faces in a more minimal or stylised way, but for the moment I’m enjoying learning by creating portraits with a bit more detail to them.
For reference I’m using my own photos – either old family photos or pictures I’ve taken myself. Is there a subject you tend to avoid in your creative work because you’ve told yourself that it’s too difficult? What might happen if you started practising that type of work more regularly?
Until the end of May I’m taking part in the MATS Bootcamp run by illustration agent, Lilla Rogers. I really enjoy learning new things and feel that there’s always room for my work to develop. We’re given a new assignment to work on each month, which starts with a ‘mini’ warm-up assignment before the main assignment comes out. In January we started by drawing the contents of our bags.
The main assignment was to create a cover for a children’s book, showing what we imagined a particular well-known person/character might carry with them. There were 12 different people (fictional and real life) assigned to the group and I had the task of illustrating what I imagined Lilla Rogers (the agent running the class) might carry in her bag.
It was a challenge and it was also interesting to see so many different styles and approaches to the same assignment. The gallery of our work is now public so you can have a look at the full range of work on the MATS website.
In January I joined in with Lisa Congdon‘s brand new CreativeBug class. A couple of years ago she taught a class on CreativeBug which was a daily drawing challenge. This new class was similar but instead of making a drawing each day we created a painted pattern. As you know, I love making patterns and I’m a big fan of Lisa’s work so this was right up my street . I also really enjoyed getting more familiar with gouache paint.
Here are the 31 patterns I made this month.
I remembered the other day that at least once in the past I’ve created a blog post at this time of year showing a photo from each month as a sort of review. Although I haven’t made much time this year just for taking photographs I still had a lot on my phone and in my camera so I thought I’d share one from each month – most of which I haven’t shared before – to round off the year.
There’s also a little update at the end of this post so don’t miss that!
From midnight tonight (New Year’s Eve 2017) there’s going to be a big sale in my Etsy shop. Everything’s included apart from digital downloads, so the special deals I’m already offering on prints and cards will be discounted even further.
I won’t be replacing anything that sells out because I’m planning on creating some brand new products for my shop in 2018. You can bookmark your favourites before January 1st to make it easier to find them once the sale begins.