100 Days of Botanicals

Yesterday was the last day of this year’s 100 Day Project, which is an annual global art project, free for anyone to join in. All you have to do to take part is choose a creative project that you can work on every day and do it every day for 100 days. If you choose, you share your work online with the hashtag #the100dayproject.

I’ve taken part twice in the past, making patterns and hand lettering. This year I decided that every day I would make a small drawing with a botanical theme – flowers, fruit, vegetables, leaves… These are the 100 drawings I made and as you can see, I played around with different mediums and styles and I really enjoyed it.

There were times when it felt difficult or like I really didn’t want to draw another flower ever again but I kept going and I’m glad I did. It’s been a really good way to create a new body of work and be playful at the same time.

I have some ideas about what I want to do next but for the moment I have a big piece of work to finish and then I think I’m going to have a bit of a rest from making new drawings for a bit.

In the meantime, I’m slowly adding all of these 100 drawings to my Etsy shop. Some have already sold but if the one you like isn’t there yet it will probably appear over the next couple of weeks.

New Art Supplies from London Graphic Centre

LondonGraphicCentre_Art Supplies

A few weeks ago the London Graphic Centre very kindly sent me some new art supplies to try and I thought you might like to see what I received. I haven’t had the time to try them out properly yet but these are my first impressions.

Paper

Fluid Watercolor Block

As you probably know, I use watercolour paints a lot in my work so I was excited to received this hot press watercolor block from the brand Fluid. I’ve never actually used a block of paper before but the idea is that the sheets are glued together *almost* all the way around, meaning that the paper should stay nice and flat while you work on it. When you’re finished working, you find the tiny gap in the glue and run a sharp knife around the edge to remove the top sheet.

Watercolor Block

This paper is 300gsm, acid-free and feels lovely and smooth. I’m a big fan of smooth, thick watercolour paper so I’m sure I’ll enjoy using this.

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Pad

I also received this Winsor and Newton watercolour pad. This one is cold press paper, which means it has some texture to it and again, is 300gsm.

Winsor and Newton Cold Press Watercolour Paper

I was convinced I hadn’t tried the Winsor and Newton watercolour paper but I actually have a tiny spiral bound sketchbook which I’ve used for one or two urban sketches and the paper is really nice to use and takes watercolour washes very well.

Ink

Tombow Pen

Tombow pens are really handy and they have 2 different nibs – a brush nib at one end and a finer bullet nib at the other. They’re not something I use every day but I find them quite useful for quick sketches.

When I did the One Week 100 People challenge I found this was the best pen for loose, fast sketches, especially the finer nib. It doesn’t drag and because it’s a bit thicker than a standard fine liner, it forces you to be less precious about the outcome.

All Kinds of Pencils

Derwent Pencils

During my current 100 Day Project I’ve started using coloured pencils combined with watercolour paints so I was really excited to receive this selection of pencils by Derwent. I love their watercolour pencils and lately I’ve loved playing with the Inktense range, so I know that I’ve got some really high quality pencils here.

I haven’t tried Derwent’s Procolour or Coloursoft before but I really like the look and feel of both of them. As the name suggests, the Coloursoft makes a nice soft, almost grainy texture, while the Procolour is slightly more waxy so it will be interesting to compare them in a bit more detail soon.

Derwent Pencils
Derwent pencils from top to bottom: Procolour, Graphic 2B, Inktense, Watercolour, Pastel, Coloursoft

I didn’t know that Derwent made a pastel pencil. It feels almost chalky to use and I’m already trying to think of ways to incorporate it into my work.

Graphite

Derwent 2B Pencil

Very occasionally I make pencils drawings but usually the only time I usually use graphite pencils is for sketching outlines or making rough sketches before I start a final piece of work, but this Derwent  Graphic pencil may convert me. For a 2B it has quite a light coverage and doesn’t smudge easily so I think I’ll get along with this one very nicely.

Derwent Mechanical Pencil

One thing I had been thinking about buying is a good quality mechanical pencil, partly for the convenience when out and about, and partly for achieving a consistent pencil line without having to sharpen it. This Precision pencil, also from Derwent, looks really nice. It has a 0.5mm lead and a full metal body which suggests to me that it should be sturdy and long lasting.

Watercolour Stick

Winsor and Newton watercolour stick

Something else I haven’t tried before is this watercolour stick from Winsor and Newton. It feels almost like a wax crayon and goes on to the paper in that sort of way too. But then when you add water over the top it transforms into a lovely watercolour wash. I’m wondering if I could use it in my 100 Day Project and I think they’d be really handy for urban sketching too. A few of these and a water brush could be a very practical part of a sketching kit.

Gouache

Caran D'Ache Gouache

I also have 2 colours of gouache from Caran D’Ache. I love the watercolour pencils I have from Caran D’Ache but I didn’t realise they also made gouache so I’ll be interested to see how this pan and tube compare to other brands I’ve used.

Watercolour Pencils

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Pencils

Finally, I have this set of 12 watercolour pencils from Winsor and Newton. The label states that they are ‘premium artist quality’ and highly pigmented. They go onto the paper very smoothly and certainly seem to produce a vibrant wash when water’s added so I’m very keen to start using these regularly alongside my Winsor and Newton paints (and paper!).

A big thank you to London Graphic Centre for adding to my stash of art supplies. If you’ve used any of the things I’ve mentioned here I’d love to here your thoughts about them and if you’d like to see a more detailed review of any of them, please let me know!

 

MATS Bootcamp: Wabi Sabi

 

During April for MATS Bootcamp we were asked to create a magazine illustration that could sit alongside a magazine article written by Beth Kempton the topic of Wabi Sabi.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese view that nothing is perfect, everything changes, that that’s OK – and in fact there is beauty to be found in that imperfection. Beth’s article, which was an extract from her book Wabi Sabi:Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, focused on how it’s helpful to accept change in order to be more resilient when change inevitably occurs.

It took me a long time to work out what I was going to draw for this assignment but in the end I decided to illustrate the bamboo that Beth referenced in her article. I also came across lots of examples of cyanotype photography online, which inspired the textured background and white leaves.

I don’t know if it was coincidental or not but around the time I made this illustration I kept coming across quotes and articles about accepting imperfection, including a quote from Stephen Hawking, which was on the front cover of Flow Magazine (issue 29). I think maybe this was something I needed to be reminded of and it was helpful to have it reinforced.

There’s one more assignment for MATS Bootcamp but in the spirit of being comfortable with imperfection, I’ve decided to give myself permission to skip that one and continue focusing on my current 100 Day Project, which you can follow along with on Instagram.

In letting this go I feel like I’ve given myself some space to think about and plan the next pieces of work I want to make. Is there something you can let go of that would help create space, either physically or mentally?

MATS Bootcamp: Journal Cover and Homeware

Like last year I’m taking the Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp course right now. It runs until May and each month we receive an assignment from Lilla Rogers. This time of year can often feel a bit slow for me in terms of making work and finding inspiration and motivation, so having some structure to work with can really help.

Our first assignment in February was to design a floral journal cover. We were each assigned different flowers to include in the design and mine was Lily of the Valley. The image below is my final design and I decided that I would place that design across the spine of the journal to make it more dynamic and interesting.

I made some other floral arrangements based on the same design and they’re now for sale as a greeting card and postcard set in my Etsy shop.

In March we were given a very unusual assignment, which was to design a set of salt and pepper shakers. The brief was very open and we were able to take it in any direction we chose. I usually do better with more structure than that but I worked through some ideas and decided to keep things fairly simple with these bunny shakers. I imagine they’re be made from ceramic but I could also picture them in wood.

I toyed with the idea of designing them as wooden salt and pepper mills rather than shakers but the idea of twisting the bunnies’ heads, potentially leaving them the wrong way around seemed almost gruesome!

I’m now waiting (im)patiently for April’s assignment and I’m also giving some thought to joining in with the 100 Day Project again this year. It starts on 2nd April (2 days’ time) and I’m still not sure what my project is going to be. Any suggestions?

12 Days of Christmas

Just before Christmas I decided that I wanted to create an illustration for each of the 12 days in the song. When I looked it up I discovered that there are quite a few different versions, so depending on which one you sing, you may have 9 dancing ladies or 12 pipers piping, or even ships sailing or bulls roaring.

I decided to go with the version I was most familiar with, which turned out to be one of the oldest versions, although probably less common than others.

I also started creating patterns that would co-ordinate with each image but as I started this series quite close to Christmas the patterns fell by the wayside. I hope I can get back to working on those but we’ll see. For now, here are the 12 images I created for the song The 12 Days of Christmas.

I hope you’ve had a fun festive season and a peaceful start to 2019.

P.S. To stay up to date with what I’m working on and see some work that I don’t share on the blog, sign up for my monthly email newsletter and receive a discount off your next purchase from my Etsy shop.