Wednesday 12 August 2015

Field Notes & Faces - My Very Favourite Ohh Deer Sketchbooks

So you're probably all very aware of my serious love for stationery. I have at least 2.5 billion sketchbooks (rough estimate) and a skyscraper of notebooks (give or take) - they're just, something I need around me at all times. Maybe it's an occupational thing, but if I don't have a little sketchbook to jot down ideas or draw a few characters I feel a bit lost.

Holding all my recent scrawled to do lists and sketches are these four yummers notebooks from Ohh Deer. I've been one of Ohh Deer's illustrators since they sprung up in 2011, and I'm constantly falling in love with the new products they bring out with other artists. These are great for slipping in to my handbag to sketch in on day trips or whip out for notetaking in meetings. I love them: simple, beautiful.

I've been doing a lot of character sketching and ink painting lately, just really trying to get back in to the swing of drawing purely for pleasure and just experimenting (after an intense month with What Emmeline Wore In July and a bundle of commissions!).  I think it's often important to just stream-of-conciousness draw without the pressure of feeling like you have to post everything up on the internet. To just draw for you! There are so many ideas that can spring from loosely jotted down notes and drawings, even years later. Grab your pens!

Tuesday 11 August 2015

1920s Inspiration at The National Trust's Coleton Fishacre

I visited my family in Cornwall a couple of weeks ago, and to make the most of the abundance of day-trip-worthy National Trust places in the area, I renewed my membership. 

We headed into Devon to (one of my very favourite NT houses) Coleton Fishacre. The house is all beautifully Arts & Crafts, full to the brim with gorgeous late 20s decoration. The garden is wild with colour as it sweeps down to a coastal bay. Pretty bloomin' picturesque. 

One of the things I love about visiting historical buildings or gardens is discovering the stories of those who lived there, or imagining yourself being part of the household as everyone mills around or drama unfolds! 

Maybe it's a side effect of a very active imagination, but Coleton is definitely one of those places where you really get a sense of it's past inhabitants. There are dressing tables in each bedroom that you can imagine them preening at before heading down to the lavish dining room.  You put yourself in the shoes of the workers in the servant's quarters, busily preparing meals and washing clothes on glass washboards. You see the scene play out of a lazy Sunday afternoon on the veranda before they set the tide clock and saunter down to the beach. 

One of my very favourite things about Coleton were the super-stylish Art Deco pieces dotted around the house, in particular the clocks! Have you ever seen so many gorgeous clocks in one place!? I collected as many quick snapshots as I could for inspiration, and to form a sort of homeware dream-list. 

I'm always really inspired by nature, so it was so lovely to be able to walk through the luscious gardens towards the beach (which, unfortunately is inaccessible now but I got a good look). There were some incredible colour combinations in the gardens, a pink and blue flower bed, an orange, deep purple and red one - enough colour palette inspiration to keep me spinning. 

I have a few ideas for illustrations inspired by the trip, but when collecting inspiration I think it's good practice not to expect ideas to pop up straight away. The beauty of inspiration is that it can ping at any time from anything you've ever seen or stored away. It's a case of collecting anything that sparks a shred of interest and knowing that at some point that might well lead to something beautiful. 

You can find out more about The National Trust's Coleton Fishacre here, or if you fancied joining the National Trust you can here (and get 3 months free with E15005)!

What's been sparking your inspiration lately?

Monday 10 August 2015

It's Afternoon Tea Week!

It's afternoon tea week! The loveliest of weeks. 

I'm celebrating it today with a brew in one hand, a paintbrush in the other and a cream doughnut on my place. Yessir.

Monday 3 August 2015

What Emmeline Wore In July - Full Collection!

So here it is, finally, the full collection of What Emmeline Wore In July illustrations (click here to see it in more detail)! It's been a busy month juggling this project with my other illustration work, but it's been so very worth it.

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but it's surprisingly draining on your creativity being tied to create (and write about) illustrations every single day. Time off is valuable for replenishing your motivation and imagination, but on the other hand you get that buzz and satisfaction from being so productive.  I'm definitely one for pushing myself for a challenge, there's always that space to improve. For the first half of the month I'd say I had the balance just right, but as the month went on I was really starting to feel the lack of weekends.

Now the project's finished (and I've indulged in one of the laziest Sundays I've had all year) I'm feeling exceptionally happy I challenged myself to do this. Drawing each day pushes that learning curve straight up and really forces you to step outside your 'go-to' drawing options. Practising poses, weighting, expression and movement each day can have such a brilliant effect on your work and understanding of the way you create.

The core idea of this project was for me to get into the routine of creating every day, improve my drawing skills, have a little fun and a break from focusing on the admin side of my business and get back down to the raw creativity. 

As the posts gained momentum I started getting so many of my favourite brands looking to support the project and excitedly sharing the illustrations on social media, it's been amazing! So I want to say a big thank you to all the companies that got involved and supported the project:  Boden, Clarks, Cath Kidston, Moheda, White Stuff, Wolf & Moon, Laura Ashley, People Tree, Shore Projects, Seasalt and Poppy England - it's been really fun to connect and work with so many people and companies I admire.

At the moment I'm planning to give myself a liiiittle bit of a rest (although I have some big meetings this week!) and then knuckle down to work on some illustrated stories for Thought Bubble festival in November. The first Saturday after the project ended, it felt really odd not to have thrown in that extra consideration of how 'illustratable' the clothes I wanted to wear that day were (I won't deny I felt free!).  The challenge has perked up my appreciation for just how much fun fashion can be, and I'm definitely feeling open to taking more risks with it.  Being forced to put in that little bit of extra time in the morning, instead of defaulting to black jeans, has made the month a fair bit more colourful!

I'm a huge advocate of daily illustration challenges, not just for the promotion, but for the personal development of both your style and sense of creative self. I'm hoping to run a Winter edition of this project around the start of next year, so bring on the hats and scarves!

I'm so chuffed to see the project has had well over 75,000 views, along with a hefty bundle of likes and shares soaring into the thousands, it really means so much to have you guys supporting me and my work through this jungle of an industry!

You can see the full set of illustrated outfits in detail over on Behance, Pinterest or the What I Wore tab on this blog (which has a little more backstory with each one).

So, feeling inspired to take on a monthly drawing challenge? If you fancy a fairly gentle start I'd recommend looking into Inktober (in October, and yeah, it involves ink!) as you can get through it easily without focusing on colour or any particular subject matter. I had a great time with it last year. Do send me a link if you get involved!