A New Drawing

Here's a new drawing I've just finished and framed, and it will be for sale in my online shop when I open (hopefully!) next week. I've been drawing with technical pencils lately. I just love the super-fine, delicate lines. They're not easy to shade and blend with the eraser, so I use a regular 1H pencil too.

I've made a few collaged picture frames for some new drawings. I've been experimenting with different finishes for a long time because I like paper to retain as much of its patina as possible when I seal it; I'm not a fan of glossy sealants like Mod Podge. These frames have a really lovely, tactile finish that is smooth and waxy. I really love making them! The paper I used to collage the collar is one of the patterns I've designed, and it's also on the back of the frame, so it's all matchy-matchy! I think her name is Milly, she looks like a Milly doesn't she?

Playing Shop

I used to own a little plastic cash register that had real dockets, and I loved playing shop. Dolly and Teddy were total shopaholics, I can tell you! Well, for the next month (until Friday the 5th of June) I do have a little shop that I'm sharing with my friend Mark, and this is our window! We're not finished setting up yet, so the shop's looking a little bare, but as soon as it's done I'll share some more pics! This is part of a new complex at the back of the Norwood Town Hall, called Brick+Mortar Creative Hub that houses a cafe and little pop-up shops downstairs, and larger capsule stores upstairs (where we are), plus a space to hold workshops, and wall space for exhibiting artwork. If you happen to be in South Australia, please drop by!

My friend Mark makes beautiful natural soaps, perfumes, etc as Shanghai Lil and the Scarlet Fez (don't you just love that name?) and all his products also happen to be entirely vegan! I've designed all of his branding and packaging, in close collaboration with Mark himself, who has a very strong creative vision and aesthetic drawing inspiration from influences ranging from the familiar and nostalgic, through to the richly exotic and romantic. Like me, Mark loves the early to mid-20th century, so if you're also a lover of the culture of that time, you'll appreciate the diverse influences drawn together into his range of deeply romantic and evocative products, and of course, it's the extracts and oils from fruits, woods and flowers that are the stars of the show!

I know I'm biased here, since we've been friends for over thirty years, but knowing him so well, I can tell you that Mark has approached his business with so much thought and integrity, and has committed to only using natural ingredients in his formulations, that are not only free from artificial fragrances, etc, but also free from palm oil and other unsustainable ingredients, such as oils from threatened plant species. You can follow Shanghai Lil and the Scarlet Fez on Facebook, where very shortly Mark will be announcing the launch of his brand new website (designed by Yours Truly), and (so exciting!) a range of natural lip balms! It is so difficult to get hold of really nice natural lip balm that is also vegan (ie. free from lanolin and beeswax), so I am totally thrilled by his new lip balms and have been a willing and happy guinea pig as he's developed the range. I hope he doesn't mind if I reveal these ahead of time, but a couple of examples of the delicious and unusual lip balm varieties are Caramelised Fig, and Rose Creme (which is rose and white chocolate). YUM!

I thought I'd show you one of the shop displays for the beautiful Shanghai Lil face mists. I use this every day as a toner; it's so gentle and refreshing. The varieties are Rose and Cucumber, and the other is Rose and Watermelon; they smell gorgeous and are perfect for sensitive skin (like mine).

As for me... I have branched out into textiles and am starting with a series of pennant-style wall hangings which will be in the B+M shop some time next week, and in my online shop when I open in June. Next to come are cushions! I thought I'd also show you the finished drawing I posted a progress shot of a little while ago. It's framed in a collaged frame that I still need to take a decent pic of (duh!). Her name is Peggy, and I think I must have been sub-consciously influenced by Mad Men lately, because I named one of my other recent portraits Sally! I've added Peggy to my gallery and will be posting some more new pieces as I complete them.

Notice Anything?

I have a new site! It was a little sad parting ways with my old blog, I did love it, but it was time for a change. This is still a work in progress. The home page design is temporary, I'll be adding new work to the gallery soon, and my shop is closed for now, while I work on some new products, new packaging for existing products, and new product photos. When I put it like that, it sounds like a lot of work...I might just go and take a lie down...

Something else that's new is that I now have two blogs. I always felt a bit funny about posting too many food-related articles, since most of my subscribers are here for the art and design side of things, so I decided to create a blog entirely dedicated to my cooking experiments, and keep my main blog focused on arty pursuits. So if you're interested in vegan cooking, you might like to take a look at Vegan Jamboree (there's also a link in the sidebar). I rummaged through all my folders of photos the other day and uploaded a whole bunch of food pics, and I'll be posting new recipes as I come up with them. It's actually really time consuming to develop a recipe with accurate measurements, take the photos, etc. I can't even imagine how much work goes into a cookbook!

Here's a portrait that I'm working on. I"m still not sure about what I'll do with her dress; I kind of like the rough linework as it is. If a strong likeness isn't crucial, I like to exaggerate my subjects' features. I did wonder if I'd gone overboard with her chipmunky cheeks, but people assure me there's no such thing as too chipmunky! I just love faces with character. And I don't think I ever posted my finished stop-motion animation experiment, so here it is. It's, um, not very good... My favourite bit is when the bird accidentally knocks the Victorian lady in the back of the head as it flies by - ha!

Violet and Gracie

I've already posted these drawings on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, but why have I neglected my blog?! Reading this article provides yet another wake up call about which baskets to put your eggs in, and makes me feel renewed appreciation for my own little corner of the internet here on magicjelly.com.au, as well as eternal gratitude to the people who still read my blog and newsletter. I think one of the reasons I don't post on my blog as often as I should is because I always want everything to be perfect, which takes time, where as posting on Facebook or Instagram is just so quick and easy. But I think it's important that new content is posted here first, as well as posting content that isn't featured elsewhere. Happily, I finally sorted out my blog feed woes too, so now, whether you subscribe in a reader or by email, all of my graphics appear (in living technicolour!). Hooray!

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So anyway, here are two of my drawings you might not have seen before. The pink lady is called Gracie (once my new shop is open, she'll be for sale, along with other mixed media drawings in a similar vein, and assorted new drawings, collages and gocco prints). I just love drawing on tinted papers using white charcoal for highlights. The other is a drawing called Violet. I thought I'd show you a close up detail too. Some people like to shade using the edge of the pencil, and blend by rubbing, and achieve some lovely effects too, especially on textured papers. I prefer to draw on relatively smooth papers and just use the point of a sharpened pencil, which is basically a build up of tiny lines creating a blended effect. That way you get a fairly fine looking drawing. It means I tend to stay down the hard end of the pencil spectrum, favouring 2b-2h, with only touches of the softer, darker pencils like 6b. Drawing like this is very time-consuming, but it suits the way I like to work, which is quite finicky and fuss-budgety.

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When doing portraits, I try to hit a spot somewhere between lifelike and stylised, so that I'm bringing something of myself to each drawing, and I try to imbue each subject with a unique character and to convey emotion. That's what I try to do anyway! It's amazing how tiny changes can totally change the expression and attitude on your subject's face. I also really love drawing hair, as you might be able to tell. :)

I've pretty much finished my new site, which includes a new shop and gallery, but have a few little technical issues to work out. I'm lucky to have my old friend Julian working on it for me (who built my blog for me), so it shouldn't be too long before everything's up and running. Next I'd like to spruce up my blog a little - perhaps a new header?

Art Paraphernalia

Where ever your interests lie; whether you like to cook, sew, build models, or take photos, or tumble rocks (or climb them!), don't you find that looking at all of your equipment and supplies just makes you so happy? I admit it, I am a total art supply hoarder. I love looking at other people's stuff, so I thought I'd show you some of mine!

So there you are; a little wrap up of some of my art stuff. I hope some of you fellow art supply hoarders found it interesting!

Rosalind, Bertie and Lucille

Here are a few more portraits. The first is an ink drawing on a collage of vintage and found paper, and the other two are graphite pencil and watercolour. Deciding on their names is so tricky. I wait until I'm finished and then look into their eyes and think, "Hmm, what's your name?" I hope I got them right!

Some New Drawings

Hi! Here's a preview of some new originals that I'll be listing in the shop in a few weeks' time - some ink and graphite drawings, collages, watercolours and mixed media pictures. My friends Mark and Stevie bought me a beautiful set of Sennelier watercolours in a gorgeous wooden chest for Christmas and I love them so much! I've been feeling very inspired lately, and thought perhaps I'd do a blog post this week that's shameless art supply porn. I love taking a peek at other people's tools and materials, so thought I'd share some of my favourites. By the way, I discovered the best pencil sharpener in the whole world (do pencil sharpeners excite you as much as they do me?) that sharpens white charcoal pencils without breaking - I will share the details.

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I've been doing some quirky portraits - I like faces with character. I also decided to do some portraits of toys because there's not a time in your life when you love a lump of plastic with as much passion, or imbue it with as much personality as when you're a kid and have a favourite toy. Expect more creepy dollies and chubby-cheeked animals!

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Capturing a Likeness

I made this sketch of a young Jessica Mitford for my sister Cass's partner Dave who had a birthday recently - Jessica Mitford is a hero of his. Overall I'm happy with the way it turned out (especially the frame) but she does look a little like Nicole Kidman in my portrait, which was not deliberate!  I recently scrapped a sketch of F Scott Fitzgerald I was doing because he looked way too much like Dick Van Dyke for my liking! I think it's important to do your best to capture a likeness when you're drawing a specific person, but for me, I also like to stylise my subject somewhat - I guess it's all about achieving that balance.

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I'm totally hooked on white charcoal and tinted paper at the moment. Speaking of white charcoal...does anyone know how to sharpen the General's pencils to a nice point without them breaking? If so, please let me know! At the moment I just sharpen them to a dull point and use a sandpaper block, but you can never get a really fine point that way. This paper's made from recycled sugar cane pulp and I really love it; lots of colours and beautiful textures. I wanted to decorate the frame and echo the design in the collaged part of the drawing. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and would like to do some more of these to sell in my shop before the year's out.

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Catching Up

Hello! It's been a while, hasn't it? Have you been keeping well? Staying busy? I have a few things going on at the moment keeping me out of trouble, such as designing a range of greeting cards. I thought it was about time I jumped back into the card-making business, since I've always had such a positive response to my cards in the shops, as well as selling them online myself. My aim is always to try and make something unique, because I think as an independent artist it's important to provide an alternative to the mainstream market. Perhaps something a little bit edgier than your standard greeting card design? As well as an emphasis on originality and craftsmanship, making sure the printing, paper and envelope choices are eco-friendly and beautiful quality. Well, that's my aim anyway! One of the types of card I'm working on has a big emphasis on pattern design - I hope they'll be really beautiful when they're done! I'm really excited about them, so I'll be sure to post some photos!

More excitement...my work is featured in a new book coming out in October, published by Laurence King in the UK - they do such gorgeous art and design books, I'm so happy to be in one of them, amongst such incredibly talented artists. The book is called Low-Tech Print: Contemporary Hand-Made Printing, you can take a look at it here. Above is the cover and a sample page featuring my prints. From the write-up on their site:

Featuring a global showcase of 100 of the craft’s most exciting and influential practitioners, Low-Tech Print is an exploration of hand-made printmaking techniques and how they are used in contemporary design and illustration. It examines the huge recent resurgence in the popularity of printmaking, with chapters on screenprinting, letterpress, relief printing and other printing methods.

Speaking of printmaking, a little while ago I was interviewed for an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Riso ceasing production of the Gocco and its consumables. They're still available in limited supply, but it's still such a shame... You can take a look at that article here if you like.

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A couple of weeks ago I visited the art shop and bought a new sketchbook because the lovely, textured, brown krafty paper really appealed to me, and I got some white charcoal pencils as well. I spent a couple of hours one evening, watching The Walking Dead and drawing this portrait of Django Reinhardt on the first page. This gave me the idea to fill the book with portraits, and so a little project was born: Fifty Pages, Fifty People. Whenever I have some free time, I intend to work on filling this sketchbook with more portraits. I'm hoping you might have some suggestions for potential subjects? If there's anyone interesting you think I should draw in my book, please leave your suggestions in the comments!

And one more thing before I go... You might like to take a look at this site that features a fabulous collection of vintage stereo logos and typography from old records.