Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tiger spells

I'm working on a very detailed portrait commission at the moment, so while I wait for the paint to dry I've been drawing quick little sketches on postcards.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Miniature Schnauzers

A recent pet portrait commission. 

Process picture - pencil prior to adding watercolour:

Portrait on a Postcard - Amelia Earhart

 My Dad is an engineer and for a good part of my childhood and teenage years he built model aeroplanes. Gliders, spitfires, an Utterly Butterly biplane...we spent many days out at Cosford and Duxford at air shows, and while my Dad and brothers could recognise and name each plane on sight, I felt a lack of connection towards all mechanical flying things. I can appreciate now how beautifully aeroplanes are designed, and the skill that goes into making them aerodynamic, and the role they played in history, but back then I used to say "I hate aeroplanes!"

Anyway...I'm a different person now. I really enjoyed drawing Amelia Earhart's Lockheed model 10-E Electra.

I was reading about how when she was a child she kept a scrapbook of clippings about successful women working in male-dominated professions. Not only did she go on to become an aviation pioneer - the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic - but she also did so much to help other women, as president of the Ninety-nines (organisation for female pilots) as a careers advisor to women at Purdue University, as a member of the National Women's Party, and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Sunday, 8 June 2014


Dan and I are growing gem lettuces, tomatoes, kale, courgettes, peppers, chillies, french beans, strawberries, rosemary and mint.

I know it's not the done thing for an illustrator to have so many different styles, but I am always fighting between making nice little neat tight drawings and making big loose messy paintings, and I can't see how the two can ever be reconciled. I love working in a detailed and precise way in ink or gouache, but it's so much harder to be loose and it's what I admire in my favourite painters...there's something more human and authentic in going against the urge to make things look perfect and tidy, and it feels really good to paint without worrying what anyone might think about the end result. 

If you're in your comfort zone drawing neatly, I suggest you buy a big paintbrush, maybe a Daler-Rowney system 3 SY21 Long Flat Acrylic brush (I know...very precise - it happens to be my favourite brush). You can't be neat with it. It holds too much paint and water. You can use the edge to create lines, but not so precise and not much in the way of detail. But that's good - it's liberating to face up to your weaknesses. It's a challenge to try to suggest something with as few brush-strokes as possible.