Friday, 21 December 2012

Caran D'Ache product review

Last week I was lucky enough to receive these two gorgeous sets of Caran D'Ache artist's materials through my letter box.  

So, excitedly, I spent a day or two having a play with them and trying out various mark making techniques.  It's always nice for me to be able to spend some time really indulging in the physical process of drawing - sure I draw a lot on my graphic's tablet, it can be easy to get caught up in the convenience of it; but it's never quite the same as the 'realness' of using materials like the these (and the joy of being away from the loud hum of my laptop!). 

Okay first up is the pack of 'Neocolor I' pastels. Here's an illustrated version of my first impressions when using them (if you can't read my writing, basically it says very nice texture/colours and brings out that experimental inner child). As you can see, I tried out a few different mark making techniques, in particular how the colours work together (layered etc) and using more precise marks.

I think these are fab, I really do. They made me feel very free and experimental with my work - which is something that's easily lost when working on professional projects.  I think these are great for idea generation, colour mapping and character sketching (although keep a sharpener on hand for tiny lines, they blunt quite quickly).

Now, let's talk Prismalo watercolour pencils.
I haven't used watercolour pencils in a long while, I had a stint at uni of trying them out but often felt that I was "using them the wrong way". To be honest though, I don't think that there is a wrong way to use any art materials, but I do think that these need a certain amount of experimentation before you find the way that works best for you. I haven't, however, tried these Caran D'Ache Prismalo pencils before - let's try 'em.

As with the pastels I tried out various techniques (some of which are noted in a wee leaflet in the tin): wet brush on sketch, pencil on wet paper etc.  You can use these to produce a range of styles -  a combination of pencil texture and paint works well for characters, more painterly as watercolours and the pencil line on wet paper gives a great effect for more naive and bold styles.

The range of colours here is ace, and obviously you can mix them up to your heart's content. I did particularly like that the watercolour effect brought a sense of life and movement to the characters but I think these work very well for still objects, patterns and background illustration too.

I do think that with these I need a little more time to work out how they would work best with my style of illustration as I don't usually use watercolours. As I said, there's so many options for technique here - I'm looking forward to finding the best way to integrate it. At the moment I've been using these for some storyboarding for a new book I'm illustrating and it's working well!

These are very pretty and great quality. Can't wait to play with them more!
Let me know what you think! Fancy trying them for yourself?

Note: I received these packs as samples for review from Caran D'Ache. I wasn't paid to write this (hey, you know I've got integrity!) and this is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ten Paces and Draw holiday gift guide

Looking for some last minute illustrated gifts? Well I've made a little gift guide for Ten Paces and Draw with some great products by the likes of Alice Potter, Poketo, Kate Slater and Karolin Schnoor. See the post here.

  1. Vintage BOAC airline fan, £15 + S/H, Retropolitan
  2. Blue single pattern greetings card, £2.50 + S/H, Alice Potter
  3. Sweater screenprint, $25 + S/H, Karolin Schnoor
  4. Berries on feet earrings, £35 + S/H, Hirn & Hers
  5. Green Woodpecker Brooch, £24 + S/H, Kate Slater
  6. Pegasus Locket, £19 + S/H, Bonbi Forest
  7. Fallen Flowers phone case, £25 + S/H, Ohh Deer
  8. Bird in Tree Stacking Cups Set, $54 + S/H, Poketo
  9. Sylvester and the New Year by Emmeline Pidgen, (Hardback) £9.99, Amazon
  10. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, £16, Amazon
  11. Anke Weckmann Darjeeling Travel Notebook, $68 + S/H, Monoblock

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Emmeline's Christmas Giveaway

So it's that time of year again.
I've been feeling pretty casual about it all so far, no present panics for me - but if you're hunting for something special for someone, or you fancy an early treat yourself - then you're in luck.

I'm giving away one very lovely signed canvas print of my 'Snow' illustration (along with a few postcards) and a runner's up prize of a pretty sticker set (and again, yes, some postcards!).

It's just a simple entry draw, so you might as well. You can even get one free entry if you do a festive dance (I trust that you guys wouldn't cheat!). 
The Giveaway will only run until this Sunday (16th) evening as I'll need to get everything sent out stat if anyone wants to give these as a Christmas presents - so they'll be posted first class on Monday!

Note: The giveaway is now over! We had nearly 200 entries but the lucky Louise W and Sophie J were the winners!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Lumberjacks and Lumberjills

I'm a bit late at showing you this, but I've been so excited about it for months now!  So here's the big reveal - my illustration for Ammo magazine's gorgeous special edition 'The Lumberjack's illustrated guide to wood cutting'.

The magazine's fantastic.  Full to the brim with really talented illustrators showing their wares.  It's especially exciting with this issue as it's twice the size than normal, has a free letterpress print by Nick Deakin/Blush Publishing and the illustrators have brought a ton of unusual interpretations of the theme into it.

I had been considering illustrating some of the WWII Lumberjills (Women's Timber Corps, an offshoot of the Women's Land Army) for a fair while before I was invited to take part in this issue.  They really sparked my interest as they played a truly fundamental role in history, but are often overlooked.  Hell, I searched google and couldn't find a single illustration celebrating them and the work they did.  So it was great that they could fit in so nicely with the given theme for this Ammo issue, but be a bit unusual at the same time.

I'd also just taken a trip to Scotland and in fact very nearby to some of the locations that the Lumberjills worked. I felt oh-so-inspired by the stunning mountainous scenery and forests (and yes, I climbed the Ben Nevis mountain!).  I'm sure you can feel that influence in the illustration.

I'm sure you're all aware that I enjoy drawing ladies, and these two in particular are some of my favourites.  They just look so damn cool (well, and proud, tough, patriotic and stylish in their work uniforms!). Don't you just want to be friends with them?! I tried to keep the costuming as close to the actual uniforms as possible, it was a nice change for me to be able to work from some solid historical reference.

Here's a few of my favourites from the issue by some very talented folks ( TL - BR:  Katherine Tromans, James Shedden, Ed J Brown, James Burlinson) -

You can get yourself a copy of the magazine here!
Definitely go and have a lunchtime read about the Lumberjills too, it's really interesting.

Speak soon, Emmeline.

The Enchanted Forest exhibition & London adventure

Hi everyone,

As you know I've been a very busy bee lately, flying from one end of the country to the other to set up and enjoy the Enchanted Forest exhibition at Foyles.
Sadly, the exhibition is all done and dusted now (it ran from 29th Novemeber - 7th December) but boy did we get some good feedback on it! The show was an absolute joy to be involved in and I loved getting the chance to work with and meet such a lovely bunch of talented illustrators.

I'm going to keep this brief, and you can see many more pictures from the exhibition and event over at the photo album on my facebook page.

The Gallery space up on the third floor of Foyles (Charing Cross Road) is gorgeous. Nice and airy, with bright lighting on the walls and pretty wooden beams.  We ordered some self-adhesive wall decals to add a bit of life to the show too, keeps the visual rhythm flowing and makes it a little more interesting for the kids!

The private view went fantastically, we had a brilliant turn out (and yes, there was a lot of wine flowing). I certainly didn't get enough time to meet everyone, which was a shame, but it was a great atmosphere to soak in.  If you were there but didn't get a chance to say hi, drop me a line! It'd be great to hear what you thought of the show.

There's been a lot of really great press for the exhibition (thanks to all of you!) and it was very exciting that we all got interviewed by the BBC for the World Service radio station whilst setting up the show.  I have to say that was a very surreal day! I also popped down to the lovely Watermark Books shop in Kings Cross station to sign some copies of Sylvester and the New Year and saw the book on the front row in Selfridges, exciting!

I've been trying to wind myself down after all the excitement of the show and get back into my normal work and Christmas preparations (I've been flat out ill since the show, but I suspect that might be from long days walking the streets and sights of London and over-use of the Underground in Winter).  It's been a great adventure, and definitely good for me to break out of my studio into the public realm for a while.

Do comment your reviews of the show, as I said it would be great to hear what everyone thought of it.  Here's hoping I'll be involved in more exhibitions like this in the new year! Speak soon!