'The place where inspiration hits the page running... A sketchbook to fail and reflect on my work and my process'

Monday, 26 March 2012

'BIG DRAW' sketches for Monday

you can buy this at auction, in Truro from the 2nd April at Art in Pydar St. in the 'Anonymous' exhibition. Sealed bids I think and noone knows whose work it is.. well you do now but go see...
I went into Truro today to sort out what I am doing for the Big Draw! for Art in the City. So here's my sketches and a sketch of the actual painting I would like to do.

Monday, 19 March 2012


I've just noticed that I have 39 followers, (thank you all for joining me) which is coincidently my age, so when I turn 40 will I get another follower? hmmmm?

So I had a busy week last week, with lots of energy spent making cards, books, prints, badges and painting for my current children's book. I was working so hard to get everything done in time, and then Wednesday was really full on with a deadline for three illustrations that would normally take a few days. I did them all in one day! On Thur I drove up to Plymouth for an evening preview of the Stuff fair I was taking part in. We set up around 3pm and opened at 5pm. It was a lovely event and I felt part of something really creative and was therefore in my element. We drove all the way back to Falmouth and back the next day, so we were all quite tired after the event, but it was worth it as we all made a couple of connections, and I made a currently virtual friend, an actual friend which was also bonus! so here are some pics that hopefully show the lovely creative bits and pieces on sale.
setting up

Phil browsing my book

BA Illustrations table

Images 35 / Illustration Stuff Fair

No Guts,  No Glory

people looking at our stuff

my stuff!

fro a different angle

my suitcase and the other guys stuff
selling my stuff!

other stuff

our little stall
the lovely organisers, Mel and Phil

Phil and the exhibition

Ro and Tom

Images 35 2012

plenty of biscuits on offer

and tea and coffee!

Ben doing his bit

Mel with an array of assorted biscuits

Andy's work

Andy and his table

Monday, 12 March 2012


This is a piece I was asked to submit for Sam Gray at Fabric a little while ago. He has a feature where he asks people to add their own experiences about what inspires them, and how they work with these inspirations, or distractions as he has catagorized them. This is a glimpse into the way I like to see the world and something I want to do more of. I love writing and blogging creates a lovely space for it all to get seen or not. When it reaches the state of publication it isn't mine so much anymore, and I get to move on. Here it is in situ.

Waving at John.

Cameras sometimes capture the moments that whisper between the experiences of the day. The ones that are blurred, out of focus, and have no apparent reality in them. At best they’re a hazy representation of life. The creative stumbles, sometimes leading more to the imagination by holding a trace of a memory captured. These paused moments hold intrigue for me, so I log them
and hope to eventually find an appropriate project for them to nestle next to.

I get distracted all the time by phone calls, social media, friends, the dog and the TV. There are sometimes equally lovely, blurred snippets in life that distract too, like a smile from a stranger, a moment of clarity in a fog of confusion, or maybe just enjoying marmite on toast with a cup of tea, in my favourite mug. All these things enlighten me; they distract from my daily routine, and become a treasure of illustrations in my mind, eventually turning into ideas for personal projects, books or illustrations.

I like to place vignettes of distraction around the house and the studio, in the hope that I’ll find time to pause, and take advantage sometime soon. It could be the Oh Comely magazines fanned on the side table, waiting for a moment of inclination and a cup of Lady Grey tea, or the intriguing book I bought in the lovely book shop in Bath last week, that is aching to have its pages caressed, or maybe it’s the new notebooks and sketchbooks I bought, waiting to be embellished with a paintbrush.

Most days I wave at my neighbour, John. He sits in his living room window and waves as though I’m the only person he sees all day. The thing is, although he’s in a wheelchair, uses a mobility scooter, and appears to be in the latter years of his life, he has the will of an ox and the humour of a 10 year old…

Just two years ago – before his stroke – I sailed to the Isles of Scilly and back with John and some rowing friends. Our weekend was spent laughing lots, weeing in a bucket and cracking funny jokes. My only interaction with him now is walking past the living room window, waving. And for that moment, everyday, we share a smile. The moment then passes, and enters my head in its own image, an illustration of John waving through the curtains, from his comfy chair. I walk on wondering what colours I would use and how I would paint his face.

My favourite song comes on the radio.

It’s going to be a good day!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

SUNDAY SESSION and the process.

My weekend has opened up to be completely free, which normally would depress me a little but this weekend it's fine. I've been on deadline all month with my book for my publisher, doing this kind of work....

...so as an antidote I'm in the studio producing in response to this, this kind of work....I'm really enjoying the relationship happening between the colours I'm using. I really love the watercolours and when I get some spare cash will splash out on some more substantial paints.

Samuel Bassett 'Torn Anima' - Artist Interview Film from Millennium on Vimeo.

 My friend Sam Bassett is a huge inspiration to me (insert Sam's embarrassed laugh here : ) and by getting to know him more in the latter part of my MA, and by looking at this more recent video for his new show at the Millenium ( above), his work and his process reiterates to me how important it is to create marks that come from the very depths of ourselves. An honesty that doesn't appear in our everyday lives, but only in that relationship an artist has in his or her studio, with the tools and canvases they choose to use at that time.

 I recently bought some sample books that I had seen fellow students use on the course and thought it would be exciting to buy them and fill them when I had the inspiration. It was Sam's watercolour nudes and the work of Daniel Egneus, that inspired me to get my watercolours out.

Mine are no way anywhere near the standard of his, but they excite me in their texture and colour palette. I didn't know how they were going to look or turn out which is always the best way for me. I had previously drawn in this book with twee little drawings of my favourite things that didn't work at all. It felt good to destroy them by painting and drawing over them and just letting the paint rule the way. I used a Duane Michaels book for reference and by doing these it has reiterated further that I have to work from reality. From photographs or real life. My favourite reference is scenarios with people or animals in them, a form of life and movement. Something I should start to do now that I am getting to grips with the way I work. I should also get off the computer and just get on with it and do loads more, but it excites me posting my learnings from the work I do, for all three of my audience to read!

Today, it is so much more apparent that my practice spins on the ying and yang of my personality. I need the scruffy, unpredictable and ruptured mess of my sketchbooks as much as I need the trinket style keepsakes that I create. They each inform the other and without that contrast I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am now. The realisation of the importance of that relationship makes me really happy and gives me permission to be the artist I have always wanted to be, feeling the need to create rather than wanting to produce pretty pictures for others. The sketchbooks are me screaming out for freedom and I believe show my true inner workings, more than my more considered creations. Enough now, back to it!


Yesterday I had a lie in, I let the dog up on the bed, I went for a run and a new path has been created across the beacon. So a day of new things and doing it differently. I can't normally lie in but I was dozing for ages which was just bliss. I got up, fed the dog and went for my first run in months. It was warm, and the hills were hard, but I didn't let myself stop, well only to pick up the dogs doodoo! I ran up the beacon and felt as though I was the only one in St Agnes, it was so quiet. It was a nice feeling of being alone with only my breath, the breeze and my dog. I ran down towards the coast path and on the way down the National Trust (I'm guessing) had created a whole new path across the bottom of the beacon, which oddly made me feel happy. Almost the hope of a new path to run or walk along.

 I was tired by the time I got to the road and I realised that the lack of yoga, rowing and general exercise has made my body weak. I had been concentrating on my inner strength til now, but it was time to focus on my outer strength.

So I continued across the coast path, wishing I was in a gig rowing around Bawden Rocks, running towards the village. My leg was aching but I wasn't going to stop. I kept my torso high, kept the pace steady and felt good to be running again.. well jogging!

As I met another incline, my mind began to think about how you approached or handled an activity or exercise like running, was a reflection of how you handled life and it's contents. When I run I feel like I have started something and finished it well. Something I find difficult in my work so when i run it sets the pace for the day and i feel like I have achieved something before I even get to work, which is nice.

When I was at Swindon. a student called Evie was telling me how he gets distracted easily and never finishes anything. He asked me how he could change this. I advised him to firstly work in a place away from distractions, people and his phone. But when your own mind hasn't the strength to sit still it comes down to training your brain to sit still in other ways. I told him to look at the way he lives his daily life. He had just moved out of home and into a new home of his own, for the first time. It was all quite overwhelming for him and all very new. So he found it difficult to concentrate and finish things and especially projects, constantly having a head full of ideas in his head, with nothing to show for them. I said maybe to make sure that he finished chores at home to help...like doing the washing up before he left the house, and to tidy his room and make his surroundings controlled, in order to train his mind into completing chores and therefore hopefully informing his practice? it's worth a try and something I have started to do and is helping me too. It's a simple but effective exercise.

Below are a few bits I have got together for the Stuff fair, mostly hand embellished, so even the prints are individual. The book is yet to be printed and bound and I'm working on a new one in my studio later. Very exciting and all very affordable.

 I'm now off to the studio to carry on and also try out some watercolours in my new sample books!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


I am meant to be going to a private view for the new images exhibition in Plymouth tonight but I can't afford the fuel there and back. Mainly because I drove to Swindon, for a lecture, and back, I'm heading to Falmouth twice this week for illustration forums and Penzance on Friday for a private view! so Plymouth was a step too far, and is an early event and can't leave work yet. So I'm catching up on work after being away and therefore staying late instead. So today I am working between Little Tiger work and also trying to get my work ready for the Stuff fair next week.

 So firstly I did a lecture at Swindon College of Art and Design yesterday, and I was presenting to the Foundation and Illustration Degree students. It wasn't full, but the guys who made it were enthusiastic and asking questions at the end so all good. Below are some photos of me pointing lots and looking gormless, and doing a collagraph. The results were ok but it was meant to show a different way of using the printing process, using it more intuitively.

I have just received a note from one of the students at Swindon, hi Enoki, and she mentioned me on her blog here. It is notes like hers that makes the long journeys worth it. Thanks : )

me pointing at stuff!

pulling a face

students looking through my sketchbooks etc
Collagraph plate done in 5 minutes!

the result

Then came the badges! I ordered some postcards and some badges for the Stuff fair at PCAD next week and they've come... very exciting! and slowly getting bits and pieces together, putting a few bits in frames and I need to do some prints to sell too and I took my book to the printer today, and got one printed off. It's digital which is a huge compromise, but in the time and with my budget, it was my only choice....but they look ok! So I'll pick them up next week. Maybe a lithography set later in the year, if these sell! so all looking ok and I'm pleased!