Skip to content

Silence is so accurate…

April 21, 2010

I don’t post for ages…then I FINALLY do, only to reveal that I’m taking the plunge and moving from this blog.

Although still in its infancy, with the help of dependable WordPress, I’ve created my own domain-name website where everything is under one umbrella and can be found at:

…or by clicking on the ink splodge….

If there’s still anyone out there after my long absence, who is (daft enough) interested to see what I get up to, they can find updates on the ‘BLOG’ section. It’s not a conventional blog – being an in-demand illustrator – won’t leave much time for loitering in the comments section. Well that’s the plan anyway, so hope it works out.

Now that is out of the way…a big thanks for reading and commenting thus far!

And I hope the person who made my day by searching for “farts like rainbows painting” found what they were looking for. Stop me when my life gets too exciting.

Evil Plan

January 20, 2010

Guess who’s taking a break from blogging?

Yup! That’s right….me.

Rather naughty for a Wednesday, huh?

Well someone has to set a bad example!

A careful review of my priorities clearly indicates that after said break – a drastic curtailment of blogging activities is also necessary.

It’s all Santa’s fault. He played such a blinder this Christmas, coming up with several gorgeous illustration related books. One book in particular had the same stimulating effect as when the first shot of caffeine kicks in. It gave me a deftly aimed thwack to the posterior, forcing me to establish whether I wish to continue treating my art as a hobby…. or gravitate towards it becoming a business.

Well duh!

Although this blog was intended to energise my artistic endeavours, the reality of me actually becoming an illustrator was an improbable quest playing at the edges of my imagination; an extravagant dream that was, perhaps, a bit far-fetched.

With all the warm encouragement received from too many of you to mention, some good practical advice and a dollop of vital determination – I must now critically re-evaluated my time and strive to take control of my creative future.

World domination, however, takes time, dedication and much more than caffeine. So, if I am to promote myself and be taken seriously within this very competitive area of work…sitting in front of the computer won’t get it done.

My first priorities must be:

  • Decide who my target market is.
  • Create an extensive portfolio of quality, specialised work.

…otherwise I’ll be obsolete before I’ve even begun to be mediocre.

Further time-consuming activities include:

  • Design a business card.
  • Build (attempt to) a website to showcase my work.
  • Enter illustration competitions.
  • Broaden and develop skills in related areas (learn Photoshop).
  • Attend seminars, masterclasses and extra art classes.
  • Register with professional bodies and agencies.
  • Think fatter.
  • Fake confidence.
  • Twenty lashes with a wet noodle whenever focus waivers.

Serious adherence to the above necessitates stepping away from the computer – less frequent updating of my blog and, regrettably, resisting the temptation to read your blogs as often. Unavoidable, alas. And anyway, blogging really has made my arse bigger…should you be interested.

Here’s a little something for you to ponder during the gaps.

Missing you already.

Wedding Invitation

January 7, 2010

Ta-daa! Herewith the final, FINAL version of my step-daughter’s wedding invitation.

Her (brief) brief was that it had to fit on a narrow horizontal white card.

I was to illustrate that the occasion would be a relaxed, informal affair held in a country setting on a farm which boasts two fishing ponds. Pigs, goats, geese etc., were to be included. Some of the more adventurous guests (younger) will even be making use of the accommodation (!) provided. It’s going to be fun.

After numerous drafts, I finally drew the image in two parts – each on A3 paper as seen below. These were then digitally re-sized for a 99 x 210mm card. For some unfathomable reason, it wouldn’t scan well and therefore required intricate micro-detailed finishing. Which has taken days. DAYS. Tedious but worth it. I had to put them up here in a low resolution jpg so these images don’t really do it justice but you get the idea.

The happy couple are “thrilled” and I’m now officially a “clever old stick”. If only all clients were so easily pleased.

Now all I need to do is buy myself some stepmotherofthebride (SMOTB) wellington boots and go on a diet – only 6 months until the wedding.

Does this mean I can call myself an Illustrator?

January 1, 2010

Last week a friend told me how pleased she was with a blog header I had created for her. She said that it “translated my vision into something so perfect.“

I created the banner image for her way back in May 2009 – before even starting this blog. My friend has already thanked me too many times.

This last mention, however, was extremely significant. It means that I fulfilled my role as an illustrator.

As many invaluable lessons about being an illustrator were learned during this process, albeit without the pressure of a serious deadline, it should have been me doing all the thanking.

An illustrator needs to get over their own ego. Unlike a fine artist, an illustrator has to hand their creative control over to the client. Illustration is a service.

Illustrators undertake to communicate an idea within one potent image. The image needs to grab the viewer by the throat to entice them into reading the text. There needs to be sufficient information within that image to convey a message that would otherwise take hundreds of words. Illustration is a visual narrative. It must apply sound visual form to ideas. It has to sell a product.

The brief was (to be) “…done with toy houses or simple cartoonish line drawings. Across the panel there would be two house images, each next to a tree which remains the same for both. The left house is so big that you can only see a swath across the first story and the tree seems dwarfed. The house on the right is simple and shorter than the tree. The houses and trees are colored like with crayons.“ I believe I achieved that.

Parts of the image were drawn individually, as were these flowers, (barely visible in the finished image) in order to enable things to be moved around and re-sized using Adobe Fireworks. Molly, her dog, and the chair were photographs.

My friend tells me that I was able “to convey the (challenging) process of jettisoning stuff that makes possible the transition from big house to cottage” which means I’m totally tickled pink and unquestionably thankful to Joy for giving me the experience.
Update: Coincidentally, Leslie White has also written about letting go of artistic control in the name of good illustration.

Jingle bells

December 17, 2009

Fighting my way from beneath a mound of tinsel, herewith the last missive before Christmas whirls in …

None of my own art again (I’m currently covered in wrapping paper and sticky tape), but this card by genius Pulitzer Prize winning Cartoonist, Clay Bennett says it better than I can.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you for visiting my blog this year – may all your baubles be shiny and your tinsel never droop…and once the sprouts have settled and the novelty slippers have lost their novelty, I hope that 2010 holds a plethora of artistic delectation for all of you.

I am procrastinating

December 10, 2009

But at least I’m ACTIVELY and STRUCTURALLY procrastinating. Which means that everything in my house is clean, the telephone cord is meticulously untangled, pencils sharpened, computer page repeatedly refreshed and I have a sudden overwhelming urge to rush out and buy a stack of energy-saving light bulbs.

Why am I doing my imitation of somebody who cares about housework? I’ve started my step-daughter’s wedding invitations. Finally. It’s surprisingly scary undertaking something so important for someone about whom I care so much. So far it’s going well but yikes! I get nervous about messing it up, which is why I’ve accomplished so many pointless tasks.

So procrastination is my main reason for showing you where I have to suffer scrunch myself when doing painting and drawing. My husband uses the table as his desk…although I shoo him off one day each week. I’ve stuck the reference pictures to the back of his computer monitor.

I can’t wait until we move house next year where I dream of having my own ‘studio’, with some purpose-built storage for all my equipment, instead of the minute space I have to cram things into at present.

No – you’re not allowed to see what I’ve done so far – because she sometimes looks at this blog and I’m keeping her and her fiancé in suspense until more progress has been made.

Still haven’t put up any Christmas lights or glass baubles.

But I’ll do that tomorrow.


Got your tinsel in a tangle?

December 2, 2009

Me: What d’you call those things, you know,… those little shiny, sparkly things I told you about yesterday?

Husband: I don’t know…but I think we definitely ought to get some.

Done all your Christmas Shopping? Of course not.

Got the decorations up yet? No, neither have I.

At least now that the boy is more grown up, ‘Father Christmas’ doesn’t get all the credit for my gift-buying efforts.

Me: You are incorrigible!

Husband: Well, stop incorriging me then!

Figlio mio

November 12, 2009

Contrary to expectations the half-term school break was immensely enjoyable and hectic. Friends and relatives filled our house and some evenings found us limp after repeatedly replaying the silliest bits of Jim Carrey movies until we were choking for breath and whimpering like…well, whimpering things.

My eldest step-daughter’s betrothal announcement saw me delightedly catering for celebratory feasts with lashings of rich food and wine and I was honoured to be selected as chief wedding invitation designer – which has me terrified and excited in equal measures.

Despite being busy herewith my latest offering of a watercolour portrait. The hair was done with the handle of my paintbrush.

This is one of twelve that I’ve already done (and discarded) and will be attempting a few more until I feel satisfied at achieving the paint handling skills as set out in my Charles Reid book. Don’t worry Ryan, I’m pleased at my progress and I assure you, this is a huge improvement on some of the others. I will attempt to find another muse before this becomes a blog about my son. A big thank you is overdue to Leslie White for all the helpful advice she has e-mailed me.

Fret ye not if I do another disappearing act – precious wedding invitations require a steep upwards curve in abilities – which means practise, practise and…you get the idea.

Yellow Bird

October 29, 2009

In my Thursday art class we are encouraged to exactly replicate a picture from a supplied photograph. Dutifully, I duplicate the demonstration: background wash, then careful detail of the main subject until the entire paper is covered. Several new, interesting, techniques have been acquired.


Hard though I tried, I did not manage to catch my creative heart before it sank to the depths of my boots each week. Although each picture I’ve produced may have been technically correct, the results rendered me miserable. So that’s why you haven’t seen any of them.

Show me a picture that appears unfinished and I’m excited. I want to make the paint dance on the paper – my pictures to look spontaneous, loose, raw and expressive. Less is more. If I HAVE to put in background detail, it must be minimal.


Easier said than done. Here’s one of the cards I made to wish my friends a ‘hoppy birdie’. Looks simple? This was my eighth attempt. But, with plenty of excellent, helpful advice from my art teacher, (Doh! It’s amazing what happens when you actually communicate properly with a person, rather than expect them to mind-read) I achieved what I was after in the end and I’m pleased with this picture at last.

Using the unpredictable wet in wet technique I first painted the entire shape of the bird’s pencil-drawn body with water. Then I lightly traced a brush loaded with pale yellow along the edge of the bird’s tummy, turned the paper upside down and watched as the yellow found it’s way towards the head, fading as it traveled. I added a splodge of darker yellow, a dab of orange and finally yellow ochre. Pleasingly, they melded together without much persuasion. Once dry I pulled the image together with dark brown ink.


Happy Halloween

October 22, 2009

I should preface this post with a WARNING for those of you that scare easily. Seriously. You should leave. Immediately. Now!

Are you still here? Oh well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m a bit early, but here’s something to distract you from the shortening days, the threat of colder weather and looming Christmas shopping.

Although we British don’t properly embrace Halloween, it is becoming increasingly popular amongst teenagers for party themes.

Do you see where this is going? Ghosts and ghouls, bats, owls, skeletons and skulls. You still have time to escape.

This week my busy schedule didn’t allow for a picture. So I wondered whether painting my son’s face and messing up his hair counts as a creative activity?


For this I have stretch marks?


Should I have taken the first face-painting session (below) as a prophetic sign of the future?


Radio – Art f.m.

October 15, 2009

My wonky picture of a radio illustrates how I felt when starting this blog back in May of this year. Rather like fiddling with the dial on an old battered shortwave radio that wasn’t quite on the station, with plenty of static. I did not have a clue. And I was terrified about putting my stuff on show.

There was no need to worry, as I discovered. My flabber has been utterly ghasted (I’m taking anti-biotics for it) by the encouragement, warmth and generosity shown to me by my fellow bloggers. You all know who you are. On an almost daily basis, I’m inspired, stimulated and influenced (and often intimidated) by the abundant wealth of artistic talent out there.

What a truly fantastic bunch you all are.

Once I started tuning in properly, the tips, techniques and opinions began to come in loud and clear.

This post was composed yesterday. Just before publishing it today, I saw Anya Galkina’s latest post where her purple prose (cola-fuelled) says “…art is a conversation between souls.” And I’m tuning in, tuning in slowly like a radio (radio, radio, radio).


Another reason I chose to paint this radio was to practise the wet-on-wet technique – hugely inspired as I was by the quirky and humorous work of Karen Kurycki – her ‘Social Mixer’ being my favourite.

Literally, for days I’ve been working and working away at it. Heck! So many versions of this radio have been done that I’ve lost count. Although becoming more familiar with the technique there’s a very long way to go before I can come close to Karen’s immense skills.

But who knew that controlling and manipulating a bit of paint with water could be so, really, hugely, DIFFICULT??? Gaah!

Well I didn’t. But I do now!

Sometimes art is therapy

October 9, 2009

What a relief that the boy has recovered from his throat infection. Six days is long enough to be cooped up with a mopey teenager.

It’s funny how grown up a fifteen year old can seem…until they feel unwell – then they can rapidly transform into their petulant ten year old selves but with the addition of hormones and plenty of attitude.

My alcohol intake probably needs to be increased. Did I say that out loud?

To reward my self-restraint and to remind myself of the sweet side of his nature I did some colouring-in from a favourite photograph of my son.


I often take ages creating an image, only to ruin it in the final stages. This was hurriedly finished to get it scanned before the shop closed for the weekend so it’s a bit weird and the hair isn’t high enough – but I was quite interested to adopt my art teacher’s suggestion of contrasting the smooth, careful watercolour pencil marks with quick, rough oil pastel lines. Haven’t decided if I like this effect yet.


The way he was behaving I was tempted to colour the eyes red and draw a pair of horns atop his head. To give credit where it is due, however, I’m pleased to report that he did have the strength of character to think about his behaviour, then apologised and admitted that he’d behaved like a prize prat.

The photograph below is how he prefers to be depicted. *Wanders back to wine bottle*