AOH and Illustrator Fair with House of Illustration

Hi all! Yeah I have been reaaaaallly bad with updating my blog – I am so sorry! The last few months work at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has been manic with our big summer exhibition, I’ve been completing a new Make it in Design course (Module 3, which has been fantastic but overwhelming!), and I have participated in the famous Brighton Artists Open House, which was an excellent experience. For those who aren’t familiar with it, basically every weekend in May artists open their houses to the public so people can visit artists’ houses, see how they work and, hopefully, buy stuff direct from the maker! It’s a really fantastic event that’s gathered so much momentum, it’s really popular now in Brighton and attracts a lot of locals and daytrippers. For the artists, it is also a valuable opportunity to gain exposure and instant feedback about your work from a huge range of people (although it feels a bit nerve-wracking to begin with!) I exhibited my work with the lovely Izzie Roffe-Silvester, a silversmith and jeweller, her artist mother Charlotte and talented Claire Cullen of Kitsch Religion. It was great to be involved with such a creative group of women.

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In more recent news, I found myself a fella who has been taking up a lot of my time and headspace (squeeeeeee!!) AND preparing for this Illustrator’s Fair with one of my favourite galleries in London, the House of Illustration.

I started volunteering with House of Illustration when I first arrived in London in 2014 and I’ve always loved it – they always have really interesting and diverse range of exhibitions, as well as a supportive network of creative volunteers, often jobbing illustrators or art studetns themselves, who love getting involved. I’ve gotten involved in their Christmas fair before and I thought this would be a brilliant way to keep up momentum from the Artist’s Open House in May.

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I loved being able to see other illustrators I knew through volunteering or through other fairs exhibiting their creations, finding creative ways to sell their art on a range of products, from cards to pins, tea towels to mini zines, candles to temporary tattoos. I also experimented with some new postcards featuring original watercolours and patterned pocket mirrors, which I think went well.

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Definitely planning to do some more craft fairs soon, I’ll keep you posted!! And hey if you think of any interesting new things I can make for the next one, please let me know!! I love suggestions xxx

Indigo Botanicals

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been about two months since I’ve written anything! The past few months have been pretty crazy actually and have simply flown by – most days I have no idea what week it is, whether I’m working tomorrow or sometimes where I am. But, through all that, I have actually managed to do a bit of creating in between the crazy!

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At the museum I work in, there has been a live Natural Dyeing project where people from all over the world have sent in skeins of yarn dyed using all kinds of plants, bark, roots, seeds, etc. Some of the results are truly spectacular and I have really enjoyed watching it grow. Have a look at their Instagram to see what incredible colours have been created!

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This exhibition really inspired me to try working with just Indigo as a starting point. I love blue and white – I wear a hella lot of navy and dark blues, so indigo had a natural pull for me. This also seemed like a really good way for me to experiment with using more wet, tangible mediums in my pattern design, as often I take my sketches straight to the computer for final artwork and colouring. I am really enjoying the process of using watercolour and inks to create motifs, and though it’s certainly far from perfect, I feel like this collection is definitely helping me expand my style and give me more confidence in using different media to design!

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Hope you enjoy the results so far!

Zoë xoxo

Paintly Patterns

Whew I’m glad February is over – although it went quickly this month felt like a slog. Getting sick with a horrible flu, super gloomy weather, work feeling like a grind…but I am determined that March is going to be full of bright and better things! Having spring flowers popping up all over the place is definitely helping my mood as well 🙂

So what have I been doing? Well I learnt to knit! So far I’ve completed one slightly wonky scarf and I’m halfway through creating some slightly wonkier fingerless gloves! Let the craft revolution commence!!

More importantly though, I’ve been thinking about how I can incorporate some more illustrative style into my pattern work. I really like drawing by hand, and although that’s how all of my patterns start, I feel like a lot of that unique, hand drawn style is lost once I put it into Illustrator. Not that there’s anything wrong with the patterns I’ve created, I still like them, but it would be nice to have a more painterly feel to my creations. So I challenged myself to create a complete pattern purely from hand-inked and/or watercoloured drawings alone.

I started with this pen drawing of bunches of hydrangeas using my navy Muji pen…

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I didn’t really have a clear direction of what I was going to do, I was kind of just trying things and seeing what happened. I decided to wash over the drawing with water and see if the pen would bleed a bit, adding some tone. TOTALLY WORKED!

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The lines stayed really clearly defined, but the water allowed just enough pigment to flow over the drawing and I was able to create some really nice highlights and shadows. WIN! Totally going and buying some more Muji pens next time I get the chance!

I then scanned my hydrangea doodles into Photoshop and started to play. Usually patterns are way easier to create in Illustrator as each motif is simpler to manipulate and move around inside a pattern block. However, I wanted to use my original line work and use some transperancy in order to build up my pattern, so Photoshop was my best option. For added texture and colour I also scanned in a watercolour wash of hydreagea-inspired colour which I could layer underneath some of the line-drawings.

And so…Voila!

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The finished pattern! I’m pretty pleased – it’s possibly not my most refined piece ever, but for a first experiment in Photoshop-created, hand-drawn-only, pattern creation, it’s not at all bad 😀

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

No Time for Anything (Except a Cup of Tea)

Time has been escaping me these last weeks! What with the flu, and a trip to Brighton, and new contract at work, I’ve been pretty flat out! Not so good for drawing (or blogging either!), but I’ve somehow managed to fit in a few sketches here and there amongst stacking books and sneezing my way through a Parks and Rec marathon. (Man, I’ll miss that show!! I firmly believe Amy Poehler is my spirit animal. Her, and Minnie from The Help. I seem to have a thing for strong, goofy women!)

Anyway, rather than embarking on any giant new projects, I’ve kept myself going with teacups. It started out as a watercolour exercise – a way to practice with colours and brushstrokes whilst seeing how many designs I could imagine.

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I think I must be quite a satisfying British friend by fulfilling an awful lot of clichés: apart from being very pale and very polite, I absolutely love tea and everything to do with tea. I love the ceremony of making tea, the boiling of the  kettle and collecting all the cups and teabags and pots. I like drinking tea with people: there’s nothing better than catching up with friends over a hot cuppa. Tea is hospitality. I grew up in a large extended family which whenever you entered anyone’s house, tea is always offered, so every visit is always preceded by the ceremony of tea-making. Even better, tea and company is an excuse to get out the teapot and pretty cups, which somehow makes tea taste even better! I wish I had more of these in my cupboard!

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