My latest work is an editorial illustration inspired by The New York Times Magazine article, ‘The Social Life of Forests’ by Ferris Jabr.
The concept demonstrates the fungal networks through which trees can ‘communicate’.
“Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits.” Reported Ferris Jabr on the research findings of Suzanne Simard.
The Creative Process
After some Internet research on fungus I left home to see what I could find. The collage shows just some of the varieties I saw on two fungus spotting research walks.
I was surprised how much more there was to observe in forests when I looked closely.
Through rough illustrations I played with concepts and compositions. At the rough stage I explored a map concept, but decided to settle with the ‘above and below ground cross-section’ scene for the final piece. Can you tell that I like alliterations?
I painted elements for the final piece in watercolours.
(This concept was explored alongside more general concepts for communication, the illustrations created are shown in this previous blog post. Connectivity, Love and Partnerships)
I used the paintings along with carefully cut crinkled paper, all assembled digitally in Procreate app,
Finally I created a 14 second animated version of the illustration. See more of my art ‘movies’ here.
As I needed a new profile image I painted a fresh self portrait. As an illustrator it doesn’t feel appropriate to use a photograph for professional social media profiles. It’s an opportunity to give a sense of myself and my work.
Lovely illustration agent, and teacher, Lilla Rogers reviewed my Instagram feed in November and seeing the following portrait gave some advice which I’ve now had the opportunity to put into practice.
As I’m developing my illustration skills my self portrait timeline is a measure of ongoing artistic development. I’m sharing this as I’m pleased with the progression, and to bare my past work in the hope that this inspires people to keep practicing at whatever you wish to improve. The portraits below go gradually farther back in time.
A self-portrait can possibly be seen as self-indulgence but a lot can be learned by learning to observe and portray the features. As it’s face one sees most often, although in reflection, and it’s always available as a subject it’s a helpful subject to draw or paint.
Learning the techniques, materials, surface, observation, brush dexterity and choice of hues all plays a part in this progression. I find myself using a range of brush sizes, tube and cake watercolours, and am very surprised that I am often holding a magnifying glass to paint tiny details.
I use the mantra – Practice Makes Better, as I don’t believe in perfect; and I think that the pressure of attaining perfection can stifle experimentation, and thus can also inhibit progress. So I practice, practice, practice…
I look forward, next, to simplifying my portrait and maybe using a concept to communicate more. Here’s to seeing where the future leads.
The below is a bit of an anomaly, I feel it’s quite good compared with some of what came after, but no path is ever completely straight.
I’m sharing this because everyone has to start somewhere, and is a beginner at the start of a new endeavour.
Enjoying the journey, whilst developing is, in my opinion, a wonderful exploration. I wish you luck in your creative practice and those activities at which you’re determined to get better. What is it you want to develop skills at? I’m interested to know how you motivate yourself forwards?
Here’s to a creative 2021, hopefully one where we can all enjoy more freedom.
These editorial illustrations are prompted by the #matseditoriallive ‘Communication’ brief. I hope you enjoy seeing them.
My latest watercolour work for a project about connectivity, poignant at this time whilst we cannot meet and be with loved ones.
The phone is the gateway to family and friends whilst we can’t visit them.
Messages, voice, and video time together.
A sweet concept for the illustration prompt ‘partnerships’.
I saw a couple riding their bikes holding hands in Spain, I was enchanted, so romantic and implies such a close bond.
My husband and I love biking as it feels so free and open to the air and weather. It’s rather a muddy activity with the current ground conditions though.
Love through letters
Love comes through the letterbox, whilst we cannot meet in person. Holding something that a loved one has written and held can make us feel closer, and can reduce the miles between. Royal Mail carries the love between us and helps it flow.
We will hug again
Lockdown 3 is teaching me that I love hugs. I look forward to when it is safe and legal to hug all the people I love (not all at once).
These ladies are two beautiful souls.
I’m confess, I’m missing my friends. Made this watercolour animation where the love travels like a balloon caught on the breeze to go safely between us across the distance, and above the restrictions of lockdown 3.
There will be so much joy when we can meet and spend time together, and can be in the same place.
Creativity is such a blessing at this time. I find drawung, painting, and sewing feed the soul and help self expression, and can calm emotions.
I painted my sewing machine, and my favourite sewing equipment in the same colour palette.
I hope you are managing to connect with those you love, and that you’re doing ok. Aren’t these such strange times we are living in!
Thanks for your support; making the work is keeping me going. I’m determined to refine and reduce the space between what I conceive and what I create.
If you like the work please give it a ‘Like’ and share it with those to whom it might be a comfort. I’m grateful for feedback and shares as it really helps me to keep making new work if I feel it is making some kind of positive difference.,
Here are my most recent blog posts. Please pop back soon, some exciting news is imminent.
I had a wonderful start to 2020 with skiing in France and Bulgaria, and little did I know when watching Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall in March that it would be the last theatre visit of the year. Since we first went into lockdown in March my creative work has been enjoyable distraction and focus. As a result it’s been a productive year for my art and illustration work.
I have explored editorial illustration, children’s picture book work, and the themes of food and travel. Enjoyed the wonderful Make Art That Sells global community, and also the UK/US illustrator group that I’m blessed to be part of.
After a day skiing in Les 3 Vallees, France I relaxed by painting ski related equipment.
This initiated the Ski A-Z book project which I have worked on throughout the year and will be in book form in early 2021.
Sharing these ski illustrations on social media led to an exciting client commission, which I will be able to reveal in the coming weeks – watch this space.
Here are my favourite ski illustrations of 2020 (that aren’t embargoed). I find that often the favourite pieces are breakthroughs in terms of the detail, materials, and/or techniques.
My intention with the project has been to demonstrate the joy and emotions of skiing and related activities in a way that is often less apparent in photographic images.
There are people who are at their happiest when skiing, unfortunately many of them aren’t able to ski at present, I hope they can feel some comfort by seeing the work and vicariously having some ski escapism.
I’ve had a number of people requests prints of the ski work, so I’m pleased to reveal that I’ll be producing limited edition prints in 2021. Follow my blog for more details when they’re available. If there are ski illustrations that you’d like to be included in the selection made into prints please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Top 9 of 2020
Here are my overall favourite 9 pieces of 2020 across ski, travel, food and character design…
I worked hard on the first to show an expression of joy in this freestyle skiing pose. The second was a children’s book character I created for the Make Art That Sells Illustrating Children’s Books briefs. The third was a painting of juxtaposed elements of our biking holiday in Flamborough, the stunning scenery and incredible bird life.
The fourth was for an illustrated travel memoir of heli-skiing in Russia. The fifth is a conceptual illustration for Apres-Ski fun, my entry for the AOI World Illustration Awards. Sixth was my favourite piece from a number of dessert illustrations.
Seventh – the delightful feeling of calm and seclusion when enjoying some quiet time after skiing, warm and snuggly as the temperatures drop outside. I contacted Eddie (the Eagle) Edwards for a quote about the feeling of flying, and created this illustration from images that at Eddie provided. The ninth was a festive illustration/animation of steel deliveries at Santa’s Metal Workshop, commissioned by steel stockholder K Steels for their social media channels.
A particular highlight of lockdown, and since, were regular ‘Art Chats’ with my friend. We simultaneously worked on our individual creative projects on video calls. Being able to see the development of each other’s work, and to get ‘work in progress’ feedback, was helpful, I have found that chatting can help to divert the conscious mind and allow the subconscious to create in flow; the art nirvana that one can experience in particular circumstances and creative activities.
In the course of the chats my friend created an entire 2021 calendar of bird watercolours. You can see his work at
For me personally good has to come out if a challenging situation, and thus I’ve made it a productive year with development of my skills and evolution of my illustration work. Here’s to a good 2021. Enjoy this short illustrated gif…
Thank you for each view, like, comment and all the support in 2020. Sharing my work gives me the impetus to continue to create, and to push myself to be able to more and more effectively express concepts visually.
It is always my mission to spread joy and inspiration so I hope that it contributes to the positive vibes going out into the world consciousness.
I hadn’t considered that children’s books was an area I wanted to explore, but knew that my drawing skills and illustration techniques would progress by doing the Illustrating Children’s Books course.
However, what I experienced during the intensive five week course was a wonderful journey through the process of creating characters and their world.
The Make Art That Sells course was a live global gathering of aspiring and professional illustrators having a wonderful shared experience towards a common goal.
I chose Zoë Tucker’s story about a balloon with wanderlust to travel the world; a feeling which I imagine a lot of people can relate to this year.
I decided early in the process that Bob would be a heart shaped balloon, as our world needs love.
In the story Bob the balloon lives with his best friend Bug in a lighthouse; until he’s gusted away on an unexpected magical adventure.
I created Bob using four small heart balloons (blue, pink, teal and purple), overlaid digitally and areas selected to give Bob’s unique colours, highlights, shadows and transparency. I added facial features to one of them to help with three quarter, side, high and low angle perspectives.
The challenge then was to demonstrate Bob and Bug’s different emotions, whilst keeping the characters and colour palette consistent.
Initially I thought that Bob might change colour with his feelings but then decided to keep the main shade of blue consistent. The real balloons were helpful in understanding the form, movement, bulging and deflation characteristics for Bob.
Whilst considering the character motivations I felt that Bug’s fascination with the balloon (Bob) may have been due to physical limitations, maybe she wished she could be light and rise off the ground. I experienced such yearnings after major knee injury, so could relate to these feelings. Therefore I developed Bug’s character to represent a person who is assisted to move around using a wheelchair, whether this be temporary (due to injury), or ongoing.
It was a criteria of the course to demonstrate the character in different action poses to give the character life.
The culmination of the course was a double page spread (16 x 10) inches of a scene from the book. I chose to represent a sunset scene where Bug is telling Bob stories of far away lands in her cosy nook bed. I made a pop-up book to include in the scene and made it cast a shadow on the wood panelling behind Bug. I added my watercolour paintings as wall art and soft furnishings. The globe form is inspired by a garden ornament at Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire.
By conveying emotions that draw the reader and child into the narrative, they will care about the characters. I wanted to demonstrate the connection between the characters and to give them a place to exist which is in a consistent style and medium.
The final task was to create the book cover, important for point of sale marketing whether viewed on a book shop shelf or as a tiny thumbnail on Amazon.
Thanks to Make Art That Sells, art agent Lilla Rogers and children’s book author/art director Zoë Tucker for a fabulous course and the wealth of informative content, sketch prompts, and weekly assignments. I felt my work shift forward enormously during the five weeks. I invested a lot of time, was determined, and am pleased with the outcomes.
Thanks also the the many insects who landed close by me during the course, which seemed quite serendipitous.
Mediums used include inks, gouache, watercolours, cut paper for the pop up book, and digital techniques.
I am open to illustration projects, editorial and children’s book illustrations so please email me at email@example.com
Thanks for being here and following my work. I’m creating new work all the time so please pop back soon or head over to my Instagram space to see work as it is created. My latest posts follow and a link to an illustrated children’s book that I created a few years ago.
I have often seen deer, foxes and wild boar whilst driving the mountain roads at night. The marmots we see emerging from hibernation in the spring, enjoying eating crocus as the snow melts away. I once encountered an imposing bouquetin at high altitude by the glacier near Val Thorens. We would also see herds of bouquetin grazing and fighting on the slopes of Champagny Le Haut. Mountain hare tracks can be seen from the chairlifts indicating their nocturnal presence. Whilst driving by Lake Annecy a family of five wild boar crossed the road ahead of us, parent and their young, so cute.
I also painted a Eurasian brown bear which lives in the Caucasus mountains of Russia, where we skied over bear tracks in the snow. Next to our hotel was a woodcarver’s yard where he whittled life sized bears from huge tree trunks. I chose a small carved bear as a souvenir of the trip. To read about heli-skiing in Russia click here.
My first composition (below) felt predatory, I needed a less confrontational arrangement of the elements.
Therefore I chose a tower of animals, united in assistance for the story’s main character, painting them in a less literal style for the final artwork.
I’m determined to keep learning and growing my skills through study of theory and techniques, practical art and colourful exploration. You can follow my blog to see work as it develops and the projects progress.
My intention is editorial illustration work, ideally the cover of Flow magazine, and commercial artwork for ‘change for good’ marketing campaigns. The big dream is an interactive art TV programme.
I created this graphic novel page for ‘Make Art That Sells’ June Bootcamp Assignment.
As Lockdown restrictions are easing wedding planning can recommence for the couple’s big day. This opening image sets the context for the story.
I painted all of the elements in the story in Kuretaki watercolour paints and brought them together digitally for the A4 piece.
The MATS bootcamp brief gave photo portraits and a selection of items to spark a story. I’ve used these characters and woven the items together in a simple narrative with destination wedding and travel themes.
Here’s the final piece, intended as an A4 page. Zoom in to follow the narrative and see the detail of each of the artworks…
The rose farm poster is a small detail in the finished graphic novel but the A4 painting was one of my favourite pieces from the project, and the painted roses were then used throughout the final page.
These close up profile portraits were challenging but enjoyable to paint. I wanted to capture the joy of the wedding, and the relief and positivity after the uncertainty of lockdown.
MATS course leader Lilla Rogers gave an image of Issa Rae. I looked online for a joyful looking male to be her groom and chose an image which I later determined to be Jay Ellis. When I researched Jay Ellis I couldn’t believe it when I read that he co-stars with Issa Rae in a popular HBO TV programme ‘Insecure’. How bizarre a coincidence is that choosing them, when they are cast together romantically on TV!
This is my padlock inspired by the work of Alphonse Mucha, and also Hector Guimard’s Paris Metro designs. Playing with the idea of lockdown, and being locked together in love.
Catalina Island was prompted by a postcard in the initial brief. I enjoyed exploring the island virtually thanks to YouTube videos, and painted this scene for the location of the wedding.
I then developed the work into an animated video. Follow this link to see an animation of my graphic novel, which is over on my YouTube channel. Watch it here.
Thanks for being here. I’m developing my portfolio but presently have some availability for commercial and editorial illustration, and promotional work.
I can now reveal my new project, the A-Z Ski Glossary illustration project. This will become an illustrated book, you can follow along as the work develops over the coming months. Here’s my creations for A-C.
A is for Apres-Ski and Alps
Intending to capture the atmosphere after a day on the slopes and feeling everything from euphoria of achievement, to relaxing relief, I painted this conceptual illustration in honey based watercolour paints.
Because Apres-Ski is reputed to be a party straight from slopes, whilst still wearing ski boots, it’s all happening in a ski boot.
The artwork features a live music band entertaining skiers and snowboarders, some are dancing on tables, two are relaxing in deck chairs, there’s a little romance on the balcony whilst a discussion of the day’s route tales place over a piste map, and a light hearted snowball fight is underway.
There’s a bar and snacks for refreshment and an open fire to take the chill off as the sun sets and the party goes on into the evening.
This will be applied as editorial illustration and wall art for limited edition prints email me for an order form at firstname.lastname@example.org
B is for Basher, Piste-Basher
Predominantly nocturnal machines they are responsible for grooming the pistes. I love to feel the corduroy they create.
They make the glide magical and the speed exhilarating. It’s a treat to see them in the daytime and enjoy their fresh track with short swings turns. Also referred to by the brand Pisten-Bully.
This piece was inspired by when I was lucky enough to drive a piste-basher. It was challenging and fun.
C is for Chalet
Chalet – a wooden house with overhanging eaves, common in alpine regions.
After a satisfying day on the slopes in the fresh air and cold it’s lovely to snuggle up and get warm. In the mountains it feels easier to disconnect and go offline with a good book or watch a movie undisturbed. Get comfy and unwind. There are a number of things which begin with ‘C’ in this illustration.