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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Back to the Playground

I've just taken part in an illustration challenge held by Lilla Rogers, and here's my entry! The brief was to create a journal cover with a playground theme, and I really had a lot of fun drawing this. It brought back fond memories of risking life and limb doing crazy stunts on the monkey bars, and tightly gripping onto the roundabout to stop myself being propelled into the stratosphere by centrifugal force from being spun way too fast by my sister - so much fun! You're never too old to have a go on the swings though, are you?

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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.

I Made a Flip Book

Hi! How are you all? Christmas is getting a little close for comfort, isn't it? No matter how prepared I think I am, it always manages to creep up on me. My shop's been open almost three weeks, and so far I've shipped packages to so many different destinations - much more geographically diverse than what I recall selling on Etsy. I couldn't have wished for a better shop launch. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far! I just finished this little flip book. I would love to design an entire book, from cover to cover. Maybe one day... Meanwhile, this was really fun to make. I thought it would be a more interesting way to show my work than just a regular ol' pdf. What do you think?

Next on my to do list is to send out a newsletter to my lovely subscribers. If you're not on my mailing list, you can sign up here. I'll be announcing a special offer, so you might like to join if you were thinking of doing some holiday shopping in the Magic Jelly Emporium!

Sneak Peek: Packaging

I hope you're all having a nice, relaxing Easter weekend. It's a windy ol' Good Friday 'round these parts; I pity anyone attempting a picnic! A quiet day at home for me. I've been working on my jewellery packaging (as you can see from the pics) & now I'm done with that for now, it's time to go & bake some cinnamon scrolls with pecans & cranberries (in lieu of hot cross buns - vegan ones are tricky to come by) & perhaps get in a little sofa time & watch some DVDs. I've been thinking of re-watching Atonement because I saw another Ian McEwan adaptation on the teev the other day, Enduring Love, which I really enjoyed. The beginning was so haunting, it's still stuck in my head! Has anyone seen it? I do love Atonement, but you've got to be in a buoyant mood because it's so terribly sad!

Anyway, here are some sneak peeks at my jewellery packaging. I'm rather happy with it! I've posted so many photos because none of them really do these enticing little boxes justice - there's something very tactile & pick-up-able about them. The designs are influenced a little by vintage matchboxes & mid-20th century Chinese apothecary labels, as well as 1930s-40s beauty products. The boxes have a genuinely vintage look, in part due to my paper choice, which is made to emulate old, faded butcher paper. It has a lovely sheen & feel. For once, I could make my designs unashamedly girly because the products are solely for we gals. Sorry chaps, I might do some tiepins & cufflinks in future!

Jewellery Sneak Peek

I thought I'd show you what I'm making today. Here are some pieces from a range of jewellery destined for my shop, waiting to be sealed within resin & made all shiny & gem-like. I've already shown you this bracelet from my folk art inspired range, these blue & white designs are influenced (as you might have guessed!) by Delftware. I wanted to do a woodland theme, but not the usual suspects such as bears & rabbits. I finished the swan the other day (I'm quite happy with it!) & I'm currently drawing weasels for yet another addition to The Woodlanders range. You might have noticed the little weasel I drew for this calendar - I thought he was so cute I just knew another weasel would pop up soon enough. These pieces are quite large - 55x43mm (2.15x1.7 inches) - & I'm making them into pendants & cuff bracelets (the little hearts top-right are for matching rings). I like larger jewellery myself, but I'm also making some dainty-sized pieces too. I've had friends & family road testing my jewellery for about a year now, & it's great to see it stand up to the rigors of every day wear & tear such as grabby toddlers. Nicest of all is hearing reports back of the compliments my jewellery has received!

If you'd like to be notified when my shop is open & my jewellery is for sale, you might like to subscribe to my newsletter, which you can do to your right, via my sidebar sign up form, at the foot of the page, via my contact page, or by checking a little box when you comment on a post.

Finders Keepers

I've just finished working on a poster & postcard design for The Finders Keepers' Melbourne Art & Design Market being held in April. As sometimes happens, the direction I initially took was shelved, in this case it was in favour of a collage-based design. I'm rather fond of my first attempt. As I was working on it, I realised that it reminded me of the spine & endpapers of a Little Golden Book, which inspired me to write a post about them a few weeks ago. In other news, I'd like to thank all the lovely people who've been emailing me via my new contact page lately. Firstly, thank you for helping me test the contact form, but also, thank you so much for writing such nice emails - they've been so encouraging & inspiring!

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One more thing before I go... I'm working on a new project called 2by4 to get the creative juices flowing. Every day (or maybe most days - no pressure!) I'm going to make at least one little image on paper measuring 2x4 inches. I want to be totally free in terms of the kind of paper I use, as well as the subject matter, media, style & technique. Sometimes it can be rather daunting to start work on a big blank page or wood panel or canvas, but a little 2x4" snippet is a much friendlier prospect. Then, when I have a whole stack of them, I'll make collages from them - it should be fun! I'll make sure to post some of my little 2by4 piccies on my blog as I go along.

Top: Poster design. Bottom Left: Postcard design. Bottom right: First version of poster.