Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Tuesday Museday - 20/08/2013

Tuesday Museday

  1. Matthew Uebbing sketchbook work (src)
  2. Grand wall designs (src)
  3. Girl Power (src)
  4. Ink wash (src)
  5. Akira Kurosawa/Toshiro Mifune (src)
  6. Colour: figs (src)
  7. Un-traditional doggy portraits (src)
  8. Christmas DIY ideas (src)
So much beautiful dark purple is creeping in this week, I think I'm getting over summer and ready for Autumn/Winter as it's definitely time to start preparing craft/art ideas for Christmas! 

See the larger images here:  the Tuesday Museday Pinterest board!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Some Recent Art News

Art Everywhere

The Lady of Shallott by John William Waterhouse on billboard display.
Src - Art Everywhere 

On August 12th a nationwide exhibition opened to the British public. It was to be known as Art Everywhere, a project funded by donations from ordinary folk and businesses alike, it's primary aim being to bring art out of galleries and to the masses. Where perhaps a hamburger or fashion chain advertisement used to be, now a Millais or a Freud sat. Where once people were being persuaded to go and see the latest blockbuster whilst waiting for the bus, there was now a work by Kapoor or Ofili. 
However, though being billed as one of the biggest exhibitions of it's kind, there seems to have been very little buzz generated for it. On the Art Everywhere website it says that there have been 30,000 Facebook likes and 'over a thousand individual donations' from people 'around the world', which doesn't really seem to be such a substantial contribution. For something which spans from Cornwall to Caithness, you'd have thought that it would have had more backing. 
In addition to this, the reviews from the public haven't exactly been shining. BBC News reported that it had asked people around the UK what they thought of the project and how they felt about seeing art outside of galleries. Whilst speaking to someone sitting next to David Hockney's 'A Bigger Splash' at a bus stop, they were given this response:
Asked how it compares with images that usually appear on bus stops, he points out that Hockney is in competition with normal adverts that are still dotted around. "It just blends in," he says. "The first thing that grabs your attention [with an ad] is the text. - src
A very valid point, in a world already overcome with images, how would someone be able to tell what is classed as 'art' when it is sat beside pictorial advertisements? This view certainly seems to support the idea for galleries, however, it was also reported that he said 'he was not in to art and does not know what to think of the picture'. 
Reading this, I wondered why people felt such a disconnection to art and why this particular idea of making art more accessible wasn't being viewed with more excitement. Was it because of a bad advertising campaign for Art Everywhere that there had been such a lacklustre reaction? Or could the reason behind the meagre donations be because the British public just isn't that interested in the subject as a whole? Though there had been a couple of days of #art trending on Twitter which may have been due to the exhibition, there didn't appear to be much of a fanfare for such a big project.
Personally, I have always seen art as a way for humans (no matter their technical skill or background) to express themselves and to share and relate those feelings with other people, but there appears to be a distinct undercurrent of elitism and pretension which possibly gives people, like the young man above, the view that art isn't for them. He could of course just genuinely be uninterested in art, but it's such a broad and ranging subject that I find this hard to believe and even harder to believe that he wouldn't have at least had some opinion on a piece. 
When you think about who owns some of the originals of the artworks on display, there remains the idea that only the very rich can afford them, and that the most accepted way to judge what makes 'good art' is via the choice of wealthy collectors and critics. Perhaps due to this people feel disengaged from 'high art' and are eliminated from having their own views because of snobbery and fear of 'having the wrong interpretation'. 
By bringing art to a wider audience could Art Everywhere break down these barriers? Hopefully the pictures will provoke new found interest and bring more people in to galleries, or at the very least give them more ability, out in the open, to express their opinion on pieces, away from the denigrating looks of those who think they know better.

Recommended read: Emin and Lucas - The Shop

Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas were part of the Young British Artists group of the 1990s. They became two of my favourite artists, due to the openness and down-to-earth attitudes visible in their works. Through these works, Emin would 'speak' in a revealing and honest way, that some found shocking, about past relationships and Lucas came up with some simply fantastic feminist critiques on how women were viewed, one of my favourites being, 'Bitch'.

'Bitch' (1994)
Src - Artnet.com
And although they may have been the protégé of Saatchi, it didn't stop Emin turning up drunk to a talk on Channel 4 with other more humourless, out of touch members of the art-world as an enfant terrible, and practically telling them to fuck off because she was going to spend time with people who she actually liked and related to. 
I was therefore very interested in this recent article via the Guardian where Emin and Lucas wrote about their experiences with 'The Shop', a place which they owned and sold works from, in London in 1993. They would create somewhat controversial and puerile items that reflected the upcoming rise of post modernism and 'ladette' culture, and then sell them for the price of their 'next pack of cigarettes' or their next rental bill for the shop.
'We drew labels on ribbons that said "Help me" and "So boring". They went inside your coat, attached with safety pins. When you were out and got trapped in a difficult conversation, you could flash the label to a friend to get help. They cost 50p.' -src
It's amazing to think how much this sounds like a precursor to Etsy, quirky, hand-crafted items going for cheap. 
Though popular, it mainly served as a place for Emin and Lucas to socialise and 'The Shop' eventually went out with a bang after a 'massive, crazy closing party'. 
I'm going to stop here because the words sound so much better coming from the artists themselves and I would recommend reading this article for yourself because not only is it fascinating, but it also serves as a reminder that art shouldn't just be about the commercial, how famous you can become or taking everything seriously but that it's also good to create, to commune and share and to have as much fun as possible doing it. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Illustration Friday - 10/08/2013 - Fresh!


So last week the word that was announced for Illustration Friday was 'Fresh'. I've been behind all week due to various happenings, so I'm afraid my attempt wasn't very explored at all. I didn't even manage to do much sketchbook work! Oops! Here's what I ended up with and hopefully I'll work extra hard this week to make up for it.

I'm very interested at the moment in making patterns as I've got a few secret plans for the future which will require some skill in this area, so I took that route.

I didn't start out by looking at the word Fresh this week, I just went with what popped in to my mind first, something which I tackled a while back - Pineapples. 

Here's one I made earlier...
There's something about a big yellow, tropical pineapple that evokes freshness and Summer and they seem to have been quite popular within Internet communities lately. So to start, some very quick, mediocre sketching at the beginning of this week and then not much progress again until Thursday. Thankfully this wasn't due to laziness but because I have had other pieces in the works.

An amalgamation of the sketching I did.
There were a few different concepts that I came up with before this one took hold. Perhaps at this point to enhance the 'fresh' idea I could have added in some  juice spurts and made it a bit more dynamic rather than the very obvious wording I placed on top. I was unsure as to how this would translate to a pattern also. 

First attempt at arranging this idea in to a pattern.
I changed the positioning of the pineapple so that it went sideways which I think was an attractive composition. However, the downfall to this pattern came when I added the dots in the background. I wanted to incorporate a kitsch 1950's look and used some of my sketches outside of the cut-up pineapple to create this cute dotty fill effect but the two ideas just didn't mesh in this instance.

Pineapple chunks.
Pineapple rings.

I guess I managed a bit more exploration of the idea than I let on as I tried out using just parts of the pineapple and not the whole thing. The chunks idea ended up reminding me too much of sweetcorn, it seemed too far away from the original to be recognisable. With the addition of rings, it becomes a bit more readable but it's very dull. A possible use for these would be as the front/back cover pages of a book!

Photoshop - define pattern and fill.
I ended up going back to the original design, but without the wording, and arranged the rings in a dynamic way so that it looked as if the pineapple was slowly splitting apart, one ring at a time. The addition of extra, yet uncoloured pattern brings the coloured parts to the forefront and gave the picture some depth. 

A3 version, allowing more of the pattern to be shown.
Here was where the pattern ended up. I think it would make some lovely gift wrap, perhaps the spacing could be worked out as there does appear to be a lot of it and there is definitely some room for improving/playing with colours but it does have a 'fresh' aesthetic and some of the retro-look, it makes a good starting point. 

The word for next week is - POWER! 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tuesday Museday

More Tuesday Inspiration...

  1. Carnivals and sequins (src)
  2. Dave Mckean (src)
  3. Vintage leopard print (src)
  4. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (src)
  5. Tropical-based patterns (src)
  6. Pineapples (src)
  7. Vegetarian Eggs Benedict (src)
  8. English country gardens (src)

It's been a sad kind of week (worrying, wisdom teeth woes, lot's of rain) so I've been surrounding myself with lots of comforts like watching films in bed, the smell of the garden after the rain fell and eating good food. Though all perhaps whilst daydreaming I was somewhere a bit sunnier.

Look to the Tuesday Museday Pinterest board for the enlargements of these pictures, or to see what's been pinned in the past!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

5 things I Love: Illustration

5 Things I Love: Illustration

Okay so I suppose that this might be a slightly self-indulgent post but I know what I like and I want to share it. If I knew what you like, dear reader, then I would post that but unfortunately we have yet to be introduced! (Seriously, talk to me, leave me comments!)

It's 12 midnight and I've been on different websites all day looking at all things related to my favourite thing in the world: ILLUSTRATION, duh! Here are the results of the days findings, these aren't in order of best-worst/worst-best though.

(Disclaimer: the following are here due to my own opinions, not everyone is inclined to agree.)

Things I love no. 5:

Josephine Baker illustrated iPhone case: Have you seen this? Click the link if you haven't. Not everyone may find the joy that I do in looking at Miss Baker (I don't understand how you can't but let's be friends anyway) but even if you aren't a fan (seriously? no?) then just admire how lovely this illustration is anyway, how it captures art deco and how there's the hidden gem of a dancing Baker in the pattern on the fan Farah Allegue has created. It's on my 'to buy' list, which only usually gets longer and never shorter as I rarely have money.

Things I love no. 4:

Kris Atomic's blog: I will love this forever and always. It's so bright, pretty and full of things that make my eyes go WOW! Kris is a true artisan of the craft and beauty just seems to follow her around.

Things I love 3:

 Src - TimmyTebs
Illustration by M. Sasek (1959)

This is... by M. Sasek: Do I love illustration? Yes! Have you not been listening? Do I love Travel? Yes! Do I love the 'This is...' series by M. Sasek? YES! Stunning children's books about different places in the world. I got the one about London a couple of Christmases ago and I hold it very dear. In particular, the tube illustration makes my heart melt. Ah London. It's possibly a little bit outdated now with it's nannies and men in bowler hats (it was first published in 1959) but it's so charming that it automatically stands the test of time and stays awesome. And as a bonus, if you ever look inside 'This is the way to the Moon' there's a chimp in a spacesuit! 

Things I love 2:

Pretty much everything on the Illustration board by Rowen and Wren on Pinterest. OH MY DAYS, I am both envious of the talent and drooling over the prettiness on this board. I actually follow all of the Rowen and Wren boards because they all have quality pins but their choice in illustration is amazing. The drawings by Katt Frank are my favourite, they are so delicate and involve food which is a gigantic plus. 

Things I love 1:

Chatting to/seeing what other illustrators get up to via Twitter! I don't get all that much chance to do it because we're a busy lot (and I am quite shy) but every now and then I like to drop them a tweet or two or favourite something they've been up to. It's good to keep up to date with what my contemporaries are doing and share a friendly word. 

THE END! Check out the links I've added, I promise you won't be disappointed. And drop me a comment or a tweet and tell me about you! Thanks for reading.

Illustration Friday for 2nd August - Hybrid


A bit of a late post of my submission to Illustration Friday this week and the new topic has been announced - Fresh! But I had a busy day yesterday and wasn't in blogging mode.

Ah well, here's what I accomplished and how I did it anyway!

So once again, I started by looking up the meaning for the word Hybrid -


A thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture.
Of mixed character; composed of mixed parts. (src - dictionary.com)
My first thoughts being... woah! That is quite a broad topic! So initially I rushed through a couple of ideas including taking elements from the periodic table and creating new words from them.

Src- This amazing dynamic table is by Michael Dayah at http://www.ptable.com/

I Lv U (Iodine, Livermorium and Uranium)
WHAt IS Lv (Tungsten, Hydrogen, Astatine)
BaBY CaKEs (Barium, Boron, Yttrium, Calcium, Potassium, Einsteinium) 

And other various strange concoctions. But whilst it was fun,  this didn't seem to be going anywhere that would create a decent illustration. 

I moved on to creating some hybrid animals, after looking at Zorses, Ligers etc. and still thinking along the lines of creating words I put together a Goat and a Sloth to make a 'Goth', and a Puffin and a Skunk to make a 'Punk'. 

However, a subject that has always brought me great interest has been mythology and what does mythology do best? Throw creatures together! Think Griffins, Cockatrices and Chimeras. 

Which is where my first set of sketches towards my end goal came in: 
First attempt at Mythological sketches. I chose to focus in on the animal/human hybrids.
Done in watercolour pencil.
I had recently noticed, everywhere I looked from magazines to blogs to flyers, designers were using circles, they have become really popular and personally I love the way that they look. So the labyrinth that I absentmindedly drew behind the minotaur really sparked things off. I wondered how I could create other circular pictures for animal/human hybrids. Hence the nest for the harpy, the Horseshoe for the Centaur etc.

Pen and ink sketches, the odd faces around the outside are just what
happen when I'm stuck in a rut. 
The next step was to try some more detailed sketching in pen and ink. Centaurs are ridiculously hard to depict when you only have the top half of a creature and so I ended up discarding him. I have a certain stylised way that I liked to draw faces but I felt that this illustration was looking a bit too cartoonish and so I focussed in on the attributes that made these beasts famous. After all, they were legends and could perhaps have been composed from misguided or hypothetical means.

Making use of illustrator for colour and line purposes. The sketch
of the male minotaur in pen was when I had a comic-style idea.

I drew a few of the accessories I had been using to make the circular background from the original designs. I wanted to keep the labyrinth for the minotaur as I think it is a pretty key feature in figuring out who he was as were the horns. The mermaid's tail was what separated her from humans and the Harpy's wings. I sketched in pencil and then over that in pen which when put through a detailed sketch trace in illustrator gave it a lovely monoprint effect.

Putting all the pieces together in Photoshop.

From this attempt I realised that the mermaid's tail would look better if the darker half of the circle was towards the bottom as it would look as though she were rising from the sea. The minotaur's background was steadily fading away and so I changed the colour to a darker brown. 

An addition of words underneath gave it a very graphic feel and as I was looking at my finished image I realised that each of these would each make a good illustration for the cover of a book. And so I made this mock up below. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Andy Warhol; More than Meets the Artist

A Closer Look at Warhol

Andy Warhol was most famous for his being at the forefront of the Pop Art movement and for his multi-coloured screen prints of the icons of his epoch. But being an illustrator myself, I was always most fascinated by the fact that he was advertiser and illustrator before artist. 

So while most people would have perhaps seen his work; 'Campbell's Soup Can' (which was an advert in itself), or the peeling banana of the 'Velvet Underground & Nico' LP cover, many of his earlier pieces may have been slightly under appreciated. And although he doesn't really need anymore exposure being one of the best known artists of all time, I'd like to share some of my favourites with you for the anniversary of what would have been his 85th birthday.

Warhol's journey to great fame was launched by his being hired to draw pictures for the advertisement of shoes, record covers and other promotional material. This business brain combined with knowledge of printmaking techniques certainly would have paved the way for his later distinctly commercial and accessible, high art creations not to mention the idea of brand advertising. 

Female Costumed Full Figure 1950's

Shoes 1959
Cover for a book of fashion drawings
by Warhol, this slender figure is very art deco and
shows his trademark 'blotted line' style.

An advert for Tiffany's (and my favourite.)

Happy birthday Andy!

Tuesday Museday

It's Inspiration time!

  1. French Bulldogs (src)
  2. The Talented Mr. Ripley (src)
  3. Animal/Human mythology (src)
  4. Classy cocktails (src)
  5. The palette of a Black Forest Gateaux (src)
  6. Edvard Munch sketches (src)
  7. Sara Fanelli's illustration (src)
  8. The Riot Grrrl Collection (src)
It's a mixed bag this week but that's because I've had a few different projects on the go!
(I wish real cocktails were involved but instead I've been under the influence of how beautiful and artisan cocktails can look.)

Again, all of these pins and last weeks can be found on the Tuesday Museday Pinterest board!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Illustration Friday 26/07/13 - "Jungle"

Illustration Friday - "Jungle"

For anyone who doesn't know Illustration Friday is a website which provides weekly creative inspiration. A word is chosen every Friday and then you are asked to produce a piece of artwork connected to it. The connection could be very loose and you can use whatever media you like! I've always found it to be quite a fun way of coming up with new ideas if I'm stuck in my own artistic routines.

The word posted last Friday was "Jungle" and it has been something that I have worked on over this past week, I'm posting my results here today in preparation for a new word tomorrow (and also to prove to myself that I can deal with deadlines!).

Firstly, I started with some research into the definition of the word Jungle. 


  1. An area of land overgrown with dense forest and tangled vegetation, typically in the tropics.
  2. A wild tangled mass of vegetation or other things. (src)
My findings ranged from depictions of the Rainforest, 'urban' and 'concrete' jungles and even to songs i.e. 'Welcome to the Jungle'. After this I began some initial early morning (read 2 a.m.) sketching using watercolour pencil.

Flowers of the rainforest - sketchbook edition.

The flora of the Rainforest really grabbed my attention as they tend to be bright and attractive to the eye, the large flowers and entanglement of vines also reminded me of the entwining natural designs of William Morris' wallpapers and thus led me to my next few sketches, determining a pattern of my own. 

Scans of the pen drawings of flowers
ready for arrangement in Photoshop.
My flowers are quite simplified and drawn in Berol pen into a sketchbook and then scanned on to the computer for the design to be completed digitally. I have other sketches for different ideas from this week, but this was the one that I focussed in on.

What would come to be the final Layout
with first set of added colours.
This was the result of some initial experimentation. Not quite a twisting Morris pattern but an attractive set up. My first colour choices didn't seem exactly right, and I found it to be the most challenging aspect of the piece. One thing I did take from the trial and error was the idea of surrounding lines of darker colours rather than leaving them as black ink as I didn't want a cartoonish look for the design. The hummingbird actually comes from a drawing I created before as the illustration to a poem by D H Lawrence.

Second colour change.

Here I tried adding darker and lighter parts to give more contrast but the colour palette still didn't seem right. 

Shapely design.

The picture above was a bit of a happy accident whilst fixing the outlines. It has a tropical feel which suits the subject matter nicely and the graphic shapes would possibly make a great t-shirt design.

Looking much better.

Eventually, after a little more experimentation, this is the design which I felt fixed all the things that I was hoping to change before. I toned down the colour palette a lot so that it wasn't quite so garish. The greens are perfect for a jungle theme and the pink adds a nice tropical contrast. The white outline lifted the picture off the page and I am a fan of the offset look. The weakest parts for me are probably the pokers in the background which needed some assemblage in photoshop and could have done with a re-draw.

So there you have it, my Illustration Friday entry. Finished by midweek and with a few designs I can use for other things. Including the one below, I was very happy with how the palm fan worked out and it looks like I could still get my Morris design from this yet.

The beginnings of a pattern using scans of the large
Palm Fan that I drew for the centre of my design.

A few of my favourite entries from this week:

Please click the links below the pictures to check out more of each artists work. 
Note: I am not taking credit for any of these, just showing admiration.

Entry by Skim Milk

Entry by Katherine Wisdom

Entry by Revelle Taillon