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?

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!

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.

Endings & Beginnings

Well, yesterday was my birthday & I waved goodbye to my 30s. I also just happened to finish my current sketchbook the same day (I rip through at least one a month) & my new scanner was delivered. So put it all together & what do you get? A blog entry with some scans from my sketchbook. I'm a perfectionist by nature (& I don't mean that in a good way) so I have to approach my sketchbooks with the attitude that they're for my eyes only & it doesn't matter how messy & unfinished they are. If I was too conscious of showing them to other people, it'd defeat the purpose of having a place to scribble down the seeds of ideas that may or may not grow into something. So for that reason, my sketchbooks are not particularly interesting...but here are a couple of the less scribbly pages.

You might recognise the fox from my Fox & Flowers print. The colour samples are gocco inks.

In other news...I've been adding more pages to my blog, including one about my mailing list (there will soon be a link to it in my sidebar). Just wanted to let you know that subscribers to my mailing list will be eligible for monthly giveaways & the first one will be held at the beginning of November, so go join my email list if you'd like to be in the running for regular Magic Jelly freebies!