Wednesday, December 21, 2011

holiday at la paperie

It's the holiday season in New York City, and I was lucky enough to be in town! Here are some pictures of Kate's Paperie in Soho, decked out for the holidays.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Massive Inspiration Post: Illustration & Animation

Am facing some major life changes soon, so I'm moving my inspirations card catalogue online. (Yes, I have a physical card catalogue, with index cards and labelled tags and categories with sub-categories and...moving on.)

These are some portfolio sites, art blogs and other random web things I've picked up on my forays for inspiration.


Gabriella Rose - watercolour illustration, fairytale style |

Michael Spooner - Disney concept artist

Rebecca Guay - watercolour fantasy illustration, workshops

Ian Sidaway - watercolour travel illustration

Carol Gillott - Paris Breakfasts
One of my absolute favourite illustration blogs; looking through it is the definition of living vicariously.

Achraf Amiri - fashion illustration, black comedy, grotesqueries

Terri Windling - yes, that Terri Windling. Fantasy Editor, writer and artist.

Traffic Creative Management, NYC - illustration agency
Favourite artists: Anja Kroencke | Daniel Egneus | Maren Esdar | Colonel Moutarde | Rikke Jorgensen

Urban Sketchers - a collective of artists in various cities around the world.

Inkbramble - fashion illustration & culture blog

Cartoon Brew - major animation blog; trunkline resource of the industry.

Zelda Devon - Fantasy/SF illustration
Some Stuff ('You learn to draw by drawing', and other wisdoms)

Today's Inspiration - vintage illustration and illustrators

Female Illustrators of the Mid-20th Century - what it says on the tin. Art and bios of some brilliant unsung talents from the 'Golden Age' of advertising.

Illustration Art - my favourite resource for classic illustrators.

Katherine Tyrell - Travel sketching, techniques and materials.

The Blackwing Diaries - animation blog: concepts, design, and other artists

Art of the State - London art blog

Ulla Norup Milbrath - 3D illustration, masks, textiles and mixed media

Roz Stendahl - journaling, art and craft tutorials

Lauren Mcintosh - mixed media, vintage-style collage

Teesha Moore - altered books, collage, stamp art and other mixed media

Wendy Hale Davis - bookbinding, calligraphy, art journals

Ana_Lee on Livejournal is one of the best sources of inspiration for fashion illustration anywhere. Legendary photo shoots, famous photographers, vintage from all eras, and amazing illustrators, all showcased simply but gloriously.

James Gurney - Read the blog of the master who created Dinotopia and learn a ton about illustration from the ground up.

Art Analysis - Contemporary and classic illustrations dissected for study.

PHEW. Well, that should do for now. Hope you find some inspiration here too!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


There are so many things wrong with this drawing (note to self: dear Pere, please learn to rule properly, or else get a fucking T-square), but I still quite like it. And I really enjoyed designing that bodice.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a spider in the garden

Took this photo while at lunch. The garden outside our window had the most beautiful spider, which I'm putting under a cut so as not to frighten any arachnophobes who might read this blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I'm sorry for the drawing gap--RL kind of smacked me in the face this month (isn't that always the way?). But am on holiday for a bit and actually got off the computer long enough to do some socialising and some productive things, one of which is an art walk.

My grandparents live in a posh gated community and the association dues alone are astronomical. Wanted to draw some pretty areas around the place, wandered round the back to get a good view of the mountains and found this:

'Park'. Oh good. For a minute there I was worried.

Unless it's an order. 'Park your butt, missy. You won't be goin' anywhere for a while.'

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 7-8: invisible elf thing

I am exhausted by massive bureaucracy today--which is also why I couldn't post last night, had to go to bed early--but for related reasons I had plenty of downtime while waiting in queues today, and here's the result:

Invisible woman wears...Jil Sander? Armani? Will look it up when I'm not so tired.

And some observational sketches from today:
There was seriously a woman in the most bizarre conical hat, a very redcap- or gnome-like hat, except it was cream with navy stripes, wearing a top and trainers of matching sky blue. She looked just like a particularly dorky elf. So I drew the tree she was standing under so she'd feel at home.

And now good night.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6: rose and spider

Was looking around the net for something to draw for today's post and came across a lovely photo of a rose with a spider on it, which I got from this amazing photography blog.

I'm still a bit clumsy with watercolours, which is why the spider isn't very clear. Sigh. I just loved the idea of a beautiful rose with a tiny spider, perhaps attracted by the smell and softness of it, or just hanging around waiting for even tinier bugs to snack on. I love little spiders, although the big ones frighten me a bit.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

lamplight uniforms

Indulging in a little world-building.

In other news, I kind of like the look of the new Blogger interface. However, I strongly dislike the way it utterly fails to do anything functional at all. Sticking with the old one for now, thanks.

Friday, November 4, 2011

door strip

click thumbnail to see large version

From the altered book.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

more tea, vicar?

Ugh, I waited too long and now it's the 4th instead of the third.

Also, why can I not draw a kyuusu.

I swear it's not going to be a whole month of tea, but for the moment I'm going with it. It's quite therapeutic.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BREAKING NEWS, at least to me.

Benedict Cumberbatch has a beautiful new girlfriend called Anna James.

She's a designer with some really lovely work.

So, um. Maybe this means I can go get a life now.

It's National Novel Writing Month...

...and there is NO WAY I'm going to have time to write 1,667 words a day, every day this month. But so many people have been getting into the spirit that it seems more like NaChYoPoMo--National Choose Your Poison Month. So I will try and post a drawing or a page of drawings a day, without trying to polish them or think about the process too much.

I've already missed one day, so I'm posting two pages.

Day 1:
Day 2:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

For A: Kikay at a Capiz Window

Long-lost marker sketch for the Kikay Project. Kikay is wearing Rick Owens boots, the rest is mine.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

altered book

Rabid bibliophiles, this post contains abuse of actual printed books (well, book). You might want to look away.

Some work I've done for my altered book. It is called The Bennets of Tresillian and is the most boring book on the Lord's earth, and I carefully chose it for its commonness (is that a word? lack of scarcity maybe) and high quality of binding as well as being too boring to read.
I find myself reading it anyway, whenever I work on it. Incurable reader, that's me.

Mostly gouache and pens and magazine clippings. Also, in no order: pastel crayons, watercolour pencils, gesso, markers, ink, leaky biros, acrylic paint, screen transfers, and tea.

This window was a rubber stamp.

More altered books and artist's journals here, here and here. Also some tips on how to get into it yourself.


Friday, September 30, 2011

my heart is like an island...

...where does the ocean go?

Bon voyage; see you soon.

(Image from Corbis)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

the monastic life

Some research for a story idea...

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Turkish Hamam (warning: Comic Sans)

Today I did yoga, primed paper with tea, and danced around a lot to the Beatles. Not very nun-like behaviour, some would say, but I disagree!

Monday, September 12, 2011


So my friend gave me Pelikan watercolours for my birthday and they were brilliant. I should do a post of all my birthday swag soon...

I thought I needed to do more women of colour in my paintings. My mom agreed--she says she wants to see 'a rainbow of women'! Isn't that a nice name for a project?

Here's the first attempt:


Pelikan watercolours with Blue Heron waterbrush in Fabriano notebook.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I think I saw a face...

So this turned out nothing like the reference, and there are some things to fix before I go on to the clothes, but I'm very happy with it so far.

Thinking of everyone 'oop North' weathering Hurricane Irene. Hope you're all ok.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peach Fall

Blue Heron waterbrushes, Golden watercolours (yes, the incredibly cheap ones!) and ink. Rotring liner and Pilot G-tec size 0.25, for the dots. If anyone wants to point and yell 'Aubrey Beardsley!' I must admit that it's more a Franz von Bayros influence than the great Beardsley.

And for God's sake don't Google that name when you're at work.

(Speaking of which, did you see today's Google Doodle? Happy Birthday, Señor Borges!)

Also experimenting with working in GIMP instead of Photoshop. Verdict so far: ANNOYING.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

computer issues, Girls in Dresses

Computer trouble + bad install of scanner driver = crappy Photo Booth pictures. But I haven't posted for a while and I didn't want you to think I'd been lazy.

Some vintage- style illustrations I've been doing, using Pentel brush pen and something really amazing from a company called Blue Heron, which I will post about soon.

I really liked painting the butterfly dress.

One that looks like my friend Monique.

And below I've done one in the style of Daily Candy, or at least what Daily Candy used to look like, which I loved. Sadly they seem to have a different look now...

Anyway, I will figure this new OS out and hopefully get some decent scans in soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

Made a painting for Mom's birthday! Illustrated The Peregrine, one of our favourite books.

And here's the 'self-published' book cover version, hahaha. There's a reason designer and illustrator are two different jobs, I'm afraid.

Also I was so tempted to draw arrows pointing at The Peregrine and J.A. Baker. It's a weakness.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jónsi Project Production Diary, Part 5

Here's the next work: based on Track 9, Hengilás. I also based it on the original Hans Christian Andersen version of the Little Mermaid, where she dives into the sea and turns into foam.

Visually it has more in common with Kolniður, which I'm told means 'pitch black' or 'deep dark blackness'. But I love the slow, sweet sound of Hengilás, and the fact that it's the last track makes it feel like an ending.

Again I used Quink for the water, with bleach (see my messy setup above). I used coffee for the background, leaving out the Mermaid's body to make it glow. I used Higgins for the night sky; may sprinkle some stars on it later. I used a cup of bleach and a paintbrush to make a more directed spatter rather than the more-or-less even spray I've been using so far, to create the effect of dissolving in foam.

(Warning: do not use a paintbrush you like for this kind of job. Use a cheap nylon or hog's-hair one that you don't mind getting damaged. Because it will be. And wash the brush, and the cup, and your hands, thoroughly with soap right after doing this. Bleach is not a nice material. It eats things, especially soft things like brush bristles and your flesh.)

Close-up below. A lucky stain made it look like she was crying. I wanted her to forget the heartache she had over the Prince (worthless bastard) and just remember dancing. It was the only way she had to express herself, and even with the knifelike pain in her feet she loved to dance.

So in the dark water she can feel herself going, but the patterns of the foam are beautiful and there's no more pain. She moves her legs with perfect grace and rolls with the ocean current and watches the bubbles trail away from her limbs. Her last tears are for joy.

Painting the Mermaid next, watch this space.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jónsi Project Production Diary, Part 4

This painting turned out more like a typical storybook illustration, and I'm not as thrilled with it as I was with the other one--but I love my birds and the mother-wolf running through the trees. I don't have a lot of experience drawing animals, so I'm glad I turned out to enjoy it!

The first thing I did was add a thin wash of coffee to the 'frame' of the painting, giving it a proper storybook feel. I also laid a wash down for the wolf and the Prince's skin, to give them a lifelike glow and colour under the paint I planned to add.

Next I added a grey wash of watered-down Higgins india ink as a base for the wolf and the sky. Not pictured is the second part of this process: I painted the mountains with a wash of Prang blue and blue-green watercolour, mixed with a few drops of Quink and also thinned out with water.

I used black and brown Cretacolor water-soluble pencils for the wolf, and Prang in various saturations for the Prince.

Then I put down a dark layer of Quink for the sky, and added the bleach spray. Because of the grey under-layer, the bleach spots were murky and dim. The trees and magic birds showed up more brightly as a result.

I wanted the birds to be magical constructs instead of real birds, so I gave them a yellow glow with a white heart. Some birds (my favorites *koff*) seem to glow a little brighter.

They are pouring out like the Prince's thoughts and hopes and streaming out into the world... the song goes:
You will survive, we'll never stop wonders
You and sunrise will never fall under
We should always know that we can do anything
Go do!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jónsi Project Production Diary, Part 3

On to my second painting for the Jónsi project!

Warning: some very unsatisfactory images ahead. I didn't have a computer in these early stages, so I had to use my point-and-shoot camera instead of a scanner, which just...well, see for yourself.


Anyway, the illustration. This one's meant to go with the track 'Go Do'. I thought of the Russian fairy tale of Prince Ivan riding on the back of the mother wolf to escape from Koschei the Deathless. I thought of ideas becoming birds, spawning from our minds and flying away to do our bidding...'go, do'.

I did a lot of research for this one. I searched for images of specific birds flying (Thank you, Google!): swallow, nightjar, starling, widgeon, peregrine, kestrel, swan. I copied a few flight poses, and got the general shape of it after a while. I really enjoyed creating the variations of miscellaneous flying birds!

Here is the inked version. All the paintings are the same size--9x12--and I was afraid I would lose the detail if I kept it in pencil. I used a Staedler .005 to ink.

I specifically had the Arctic wolf and the timber wolf in mind when I was drawing this.

Hmm, the Prince looks familiar...

I knew a swan should lead the flock, but she would have overwhelmed the composition. So I nudged her up into a far corner with only a bit of her wing and her black legs showing. She's the only one with legs.

Next post will be in colour!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Would You Trust Me to Teach You Art?

Would you guys be interested in reading an art tutorial blog if I wrote one?

Those of you still following my Notes on Facebook, or this blog on Tumblr, may have noticed the first post of something I've decided to call 'Thinking with Your Hands'. I'm not presuming to tell people HOW to DO ART; I'll share some pieces I'm proud of (and maybe some I'm not) and explain how I did them and what I enjoyed or struggled with in the process.

So you'll see more posts of this kind floating in; let me know if you liked them or what other art-related things you'd like me to bring up.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Jonsi Project Production Diary, Part 2

Part 1

This post has nudity, so I'm putting it under a cut. I know, the last post did too, but it was very sketchy. This one has bright watercolour female nudity, so behind the jump-cut curtain it goes!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jonsi Project Production Diary, part 1

I have begun a project which is extremely personal and dear to my heart (and other bits, possibly) that I am currently calling The Jónsi Project. It's going to be a series of 9 paintings, based on the music from the album Go, the new solo album by Jónsi Birgisson, lead singer of Sígur Rós.

I'm fully documenting the process as a journaling experiment, for various reasons. Here's the first painting, which I was working on today.

It only occurs to me now that I should have taken a photo for every step of the process. But I was so hung up on not having a computer with which to scan my work, that it never occurred to me. Hopefully this hindsight helps me become more solution-oriented!

Fortunately now I've borrowed a computer, so I have some visual aids for my notes. This is going to be long and image-heavy, so I've put it behind a cut. Read on if you're curious about the process.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

don't go by the woods, my darling

Bic biro on Muji notebook paper.