Monday, June 4, 2018

nature sketching - spring to summer

This spring has been very productive for diary sketching! I got a little serious about hanami and kept a log of my favourite cherry blossom viewing locations.

Every year is also a search for the perfect cherry-blossom-pink ink...and I think I've finally found it! J. Herbin's Bouquet D'Antan is a pale dusty pink that is a delight to draw infinite flower petals with. Put it in a wet drawing fountain pen like a Lamy Safari and watch it go. I found I couldn't stop drawing bunches and bunches of them.

All these flowers and the twittering birds returned from the long winter made me miss our garden at home, and I drew some Philippine garden birds in a small Fabriano notebook I'm using as a colour sketch journal.

Sailor HiAce Neo pen with Kiwa-Guro ink,
Cass Art watercolours

And more recently, as the cold days clash with the hot, there have been some lightning storms that were wonderful to watch. It's hard to draw lightning at the best of times, let alone from memory, but I just had to get those images down before they faded.

Winsor and Newton watercolours
with white Kuretake graphic paint

This has been a very pink post, apropos for spring. Looking forward to summer!

Monday, May 28, 2018


It's Mermay! Springtime is a good time to turn over a new leaf.

This year instead of just doing mermaids, I wanted to use concepts that made me think of mermaids. Hair. Tails. Weightlessness. Allure.

I didn't go as deep as I do in Inktober, but I'm pleased with the results.

Various Platinum and Kuretake pens in expired Moleskine planner/diary.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

more drive by

I've continued to do the drive by drawing off and on over the years, although I haven't been posting. I ride the bus a lot less often these days; I miss it.

Friday, June 9, 2017


Doing some italic practice with dip pens and Diamine inks, using forms by Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls.

Quote from One Week One Band.

My favourite poem, known as the Maboroshi poem, by Murasaki Shikibu. Translation by Liza Dalby, from her book The Tale of Murasaki.

Some quotes from blogs and my new fandom Yuri!!! on Ice. The original was in all caps too! I find it silly but inspiring.

Speedball C-4 dip pen with Diamine Oxblood, Grey and Carnation.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fashion illustration: the Moretta

Got an idea for fashion illustrations revolving around the Moretta, or 'mute servant' mask: a Venetian ladies' mask held on by gripping a button between the teeth, rendering the wearer silent.

The Moretta was also said to embody the Renaissance ideal of feminine beauty. Stripping away speech and expression, the mask forced women to perform their responses, creating a blank canvas on which anything could be projected. Fashion is supposed to be the ultimate form of expression and identity. Which aspect is true?

Zebra Super Fine disposable brush pen and Pentel and Zig waterbrushes filled with ink in various dilutions, in Fabriano journal.

Monday, February 27, 2017

small pleasures

Taking a break from digital watercolour to post some small things I've been doing in traditional watercolour as loosening-up exercises. The School of Life recently released a little card pack called Small Pleasures, and I've been painting my favourites.

1. Feeling at home in the sea. I used a technique called 'spontaneous painting' by YouTube artist The Mind of Watercolor. Winsor & Newton Artist watercolours.

2. Figs and lemons. Staedtler clutch pencil, Winsor & Newton Artist pan watercolours and watercolour markers.

3. A book that understands you. I love painting people reading! Kuretake brush pen and Cass Art professional watercolour travel set.

There's quite a few cards in the set, so there will be more of these soon!

Monday, February 13, 2017

learning and sketching

I've been working on my facility with digital art lately. I may be most comfortable with creating work on paper and then painting it digitally, as I'm doing for a current project:

Watercolour brushes and techniques from Kyle T Webster!

My Bamboo tablet and Photoshop are my tools of choice, although I've seen amazing work on Corel Painter, Paint Tool Sai and a relatively new open-source program called Krita.

But I'm still most comfortable with pen, paints and paper. Sometimes you are seized with inspiration and need to get something on record RIGHT NOW. A digital illustration still takes me many hours and a lot of equipment. So when, for example, one of my favourite actors appears at my place of work and I want to commemorate the experience...

I still grab my notebook instead of my tablet. I do hope to be equally quick on the draw with both someday!

Monday, November 28, 2016

inktober review

The Inktober Initiative was created by artist and illustrator Jake Parker in 2009 and became a massive worldwide art event, much like NaNoWriMo is for writers. I joined in the last 2 years; my first year was a huge failure but this year I managed to get some fun work out despite other project demands.

In fact it got me into the habit of regularly drawing something for myself along with my commissioned work. Inktober is lots of fun and I love being part of the community; I'm definitely doing it again next year!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Copic markers

Back in my all-anime-all-the-time days I painstakingly built up a collection of Japanese Copic alcohol markers over years, and taught myself how to use them. This year I am relearning how to do manga style for a project, so it seemed appropriate to go back to working with my old friends.

I have a lot more experience under my belt now, but it still took a while to remember the techniques! Luckily there are some awesome tutorials on Youtube to work with, which I didn't have when I first started.

But sometimes you get a challenge that you can't find a tutorial for, and that's when training and practice come to the rescue. I used the wrong side of the marker paper by mistake and didn't realise a very obvious thing: the other side isn't like the front at all! It's smooth and pencil slides across it and the alcohol just sits on top and doesn't absorb. Colours will smear and push each other out of the way. But if you know some basic principles and are willing to play around, it produces a fun effect of a very different kind.

Copic marker, fountain pen ink, various pens, nibs and brush pens.

Monday, August 22, 2016

collage: books and cybernetics

Two quick things I knocked together. Sometimes you just run across something that makes you want to cut it out and keep it: one was a picture of piles and piles of new books and another was a few lines of text that were just too weird to forget.

Both collages in a Moleskine Large Squared Notebook.

Stamp of Observant Owl, from Ink Wit

Apparently a performance artist I won't name has had a cybernetic ear affixed to his arm. The text reads: 'The ear cannot currently hear; however, the artist now plans to use his own stem cells to grow an external ear lobe before implanting a Wi-Fi enabled microphone which will be permanently activated so that people all over the world will be able to listen live.'

But to what, I wonder?