Archive | January, 2012

Screen printing and a trip to Bristol

29 Jan


Who’s seen Noel Fielding’s new comedy? I’m planning to take to the sofa very soon and catch up on good ol’ iplayer. But before that, I’m pleased to announced (cue trumpet!) that on Saturday 25 February I’ll be having a stall at Ffotogallery’s annual (ish) Book Arts Fayre. I’ll have a range of work with me to show and sell, from illustrations to brand newly printed / designed books. Occasions like these are good for making me focus my ideas and create / develop some new techniques.

When I’m looking for ideas (and because much of my work features animals / nature) I take myself to the natural history part of the museum. Upon my visit last weekend I encountered the skeleton of a (now extinct) Irish Elk. Its antlers were spectacular, and I made a sketch (Its neighbour was a ginger bison exactly the same colour as my hair).

…and then developed the sketch into a tonal illustration, brought to life with book print for an antler. Perhaps this alludes to the fact that this creature, now, survives only through story?

Since the start of this term I’ve been taking a screenprinting course at the Cardiff Open Art School – I’m truly addicted now, and look forward to setting up at home.  We began with paper stencils, and below is one of the stencils for a two- colour print. It’s about escaping from a bustling city into open spaces, once in a while.

Here is the finished print – I like the third colour created by the slightly mis-matched registration. The middle illustration is upside down, as I designed it to be a single-sheet book – although it looks nice in its own right, I think.

Click here to visit the NEW PRINTMAKING PAGE see what the print looks like folded up into a book…
I need to start thinking about a design to use for a photo stencil, for tomorrow’s class.

Letterpress Weekend Course
On 11th and 12th February I will be teaching another Letterpress weekend class at the Cardiff Open Art School. Visit their website to find out more and book!

An inspiring Bristol trip.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon wandering around Montpelier with friends. First stop was the Here Gallery (which I’ve been meaning to visit for some time) which stocks a hoard of illustrations, prints, handmade books and small press zines. Check out their website for opening times and details of upcoming exhibitions.

There I bought Issue 12 of the ever pleasing Uppercase Magazine, which focuses this issue on cartography, artistic adventure and a love of paper. I’m looking forward to burying my nose between the (very well designed) pages. The cover artwork, below, is by Jennifer Collier: view her wonderful ephemera-inspired creations right here.

I also purchased The New Ghost by Robert Hunter, an illustrated story/comic published by NoBrow press. It follows a ghost who, on his first day, accidentally makes friends with a human astronomer. The page layouts and colours are innovative and the story subtly told. Below is a spread from the book: click on the cover to find out more about this title and others on the NoBrow website.

When we arrived we ate toast in this cafe – I’m currently working on a shop-front illustration and plan to use this as reference.

Then later, following an afternoon of galleries charity shops cafes and conversation, we climbed onto the roof of a friend’s house as the day slipped towards dusk.

Ampersand Biscuits!

8 Jan

Today I baked some cinnamon and orange shortbread finished with a piece of wooden type – suitable for all font fiends, letterpress lovers and biscuit fans.

12oz plain flour
8oz butter
4 oz brown sugar
teaspoon cinnamon
zest & juice of a large orange

Oven – 180 c.
Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon, and then add the butter and mix well. Grate in the orange zest and then gradually add the juice, kneading the mixture into a dough. Roll out the dough to 1 cm thickness, and lay a piece of clingfilm on top. Press your wooden printing type into the dough (but not too hard) and then cut around it using cookie cutter or similar.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden.

Eat & enjoy! &&&&&!


New year’s illustrations

2 Jan

Happy New Year!
To kickstart 2012, here are some pieces I did over the past week, followed by a few recommendations for your interest and enjoyment.

This illustration began as a continuous line drawing, followed by some photoshop techniques similar to those used when creating Alan . Perhaps it will become a series? On boxing day the Devon village of Meavy played host to a merry crowd of Morris dancers, who entertained locals with music and revelry over lunchtime. Their costumes are based on the colours of Dartmoor – the sky, the ground, the rocks and the heather.

I have no idea where this one came from – perhaps the blustery December weather blowing birds off course? This stormy image has been in my head for a while. I enjoyed mixing watercolours into moody and brooding hues to create the clouds, and illustrating the power that storms bring through the little girl about to open her umbrella at the lightning. Today there was a spectacular hail storm in Cardiff – getting caught out in these really blow away the cobwebs!

Pretty self explanatory really. Curled up by the fire at our friend Ben’s house, while the boys talked motorbikes, I started sketching the rows of vintage plates, mugs and other miscellaneous crockery balanced on the dresser. The first drawing in my new Moleskeine notebook.


Now – here are a few recommendations to get the year off to a good start.

Present And Correct: online purveyors of stylish stationary, vintage prints and all kinds of ephemera to jazz up your desk. Such as these index cards (pictured below) – click here to find out more!

– Christian Northeast’s XYZ blocks:

Alternative wooden alphabet blocks with vibrant and humourous illustrations. Christian Northeast has created this toy, for adults and children alike, for American company Fred and Friends. You can purchase the blocks here in the UK. His graphics, lettering and paintings have a lot of texture and warmth, and I admire his use of bright colours.


An enlightening talk, courtesy of the Society of Illustrators website, by Stephen Savage on Illustrating Bedtime Books. I got some great ideas from watching this – from thinking about characters and the impact of the image, to working with existing stories and authors.

My next creative task is to decide on which Outside a Dog colour ways to print and then sell on the internet and in real shops. I’ve also got my eye on some William Morris fabric on ebay. Right now though I’m going to go and watch the new Sherlock for a second time -the joy that is BBC iPlayer!