Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Neverending Story.... part 6...

This is my contribution to Amy's never ending story.  You can read the previous parts if you click on the button at the bottom of this post.

The girl with the blue scarf put the thought of the girl with the golden locks who lost her head out of her mind.  She needed to find out if that blue horse with the magical white wings was actually her little dog, the one who she used to keep in her blue scarf way back when.

She looked up into the sky which had turned as golden as the hair of the girl who lost her head.  She could just make out the silhouette of the flying horse but wait, where was the man? He wasn’t on the horse’s back any longer. 

Suddenly she felt a cold breath on her neck.  The man with no face (which was actually really creepy because he literally had no face) stood right behind her holding the symbols of greed in his hands. She gasped at his fetid breath as the man with no face whispered in her ear:

‘Don’t scream beautiful red haired girl, I represent the money-hungry, faceless capitalist giants who are taking over the world and ruining it with our commercialised greed.  I would never have believed that such a wonder as a flying blue horse existed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.  He led me right to you and I think that you and your eternal optimism and artistic creativity may be something else that we can capitalise on. I think you may have imagined him into existence and I won’t be happy until we’ve hunted him down and hung his head on our trophy wall. ‘

The girl was aghast. ‘But why would you want to destroy something so beautiful’.

‘Oh, because we can’ said the man with no face, nonchalantly.  

He went on to tell her that he wanted her to work for him creating mystical, mythical creatures that he could then hunt into extinction. The privilege of working for the man would be payment enough, he arrogantly summed up.

It turned out that the girl with the blue scarf and the red hair had a fiery temper to match her fiery locks (must be the fighting Irish in her blood) and she mustered up all her karate moves (which in truth were only two) stomped on the man with no face’s foot, spun round and punched him squarely where his nose would’ve been, had he had a face.

As he squealed and cursed and rolled around on the ground like an overdramatic football (soccer for the American readers) player looking for a free kick, the girl with the blue scarf ran for her life into the nearby pumpkin forest (who knew there were actual pumpkin trees?).  As she raced through the pumpkin trees with their heavy fruit already carved for Halloween which was the next hugely commercialised holiday that the corporate giants would cash in on, she saw up ahead, in a clearing, her beautiful blue winged horse that used to be a dog, pawing at the ground and waiting for her.  She jumped on his back and they rose up into the air and flew far, far away from the man with no face into a night sky with a million, squillion stars twinkling all around them, off on their next adventure...


Because there's a tenuous Halloween link in my part of the story, I'm also linking to Natasha May's Halloween blog party here:

and the Butterfly Effect's Surreal theme here:

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Paint Party Friday...Vegan Cupcakes and Fiat 500s...

The final version which turned out not to be the final version

I mentioned last week that I had bid on a job on People Per Hour to design a logo for a vegan bakery. This was my first ever commission for something that wasn’t a dog portrait or a caricature.

The client gave a clear brief of what she wanted which was a girly, whimsical and quirky illustration of a fiat 500 Old Timer with a cupcake on the door. The bakery is called Babette’s Bakery and Babette is the car! The client wanted it to look like it was zipping through town with deliveries of delicious vegan goodies.

Initially I submitted a bid with a sample of my walkies illustrations – the walk n roll one with the dachshund and 50s petticoats. Lucky for me, this was exactly the style of illustration she wanted and asked me to submit a rough draft sketch of a design based on her brief.

I submitted this:

That got me the job and the client then advised things she would like tweaked and changed. She also asked if it would be a vector file which made me panic – I’m not a graphic designer and actually didn’t even know what a vector file was! I had to Google it! It turned out that she would be able to get my drawings converted to vector files so that she could then get the cupcake made into a decal for her car door.

I came up with 6 rough variations on a cupcake and then the client advised which bits of each she liked to make up the final cupcake.

I then drew the cupcake on its own and scanned both black and white and colour versions:

Next I set about re-drawing the car design incorporating the changes the client had asked for. I scanned the black and white version and then added colour – this was the part I was most nervous about as one slip of the brush or blob of paint in the wrong place and it would have been back to the drawing board.

I actually ended up adding colour to the original sketch first as a sort of test run and once I was happy with that I completed the design. However, it turned out that the girl’s profile was different in the second design and the client preferred the original face so, as I had painted both,  I sent both images so she could decide which she preferred to use on her business stationery.

The original sketch with a few minor amendments turned out to be the preferred final version

I enjoyed doing this – it was really different from any commission I’ve done before for a dog portrait for example, because then the client is essentially leaving it entirely up to me to come up with a likeness of their dog from a photograph and they don't have any input in how it is progressing.

With this I was working completely to the client’s requirements and had to remember that my preferences didn’t come into it – so even though I might have preferred a different style of cupcake, it wasn’t up to me! That was quite a new thing as mostly artists draw what they want and please themselves whereas with this I contacted the client each time I did a new draft to make sure it was in keeping with the brief.  It was really quite nervewracking, hoping that I came up with a design that matched the client’s vision and so, it was really satisfying when the job was completed and the client was happy with the design.

I’ve asked if she will let me see the business cards and car decal once they have been ‘vectorised’ as I’m curious to see how much that will change my original illustration and also it’ll be exciting to see my work on someone’s business card! It's just a pity that the bakery is in Switzerland so I won't get to try out any of the vegan cupcakes!

I'm going to try to get round everyone at Paint Party Friday over the weekend.  I do pop in to blogs at work er, lunch break but for some reason my work computer won't let me leave comments on some of them - I think it might be to do with the word capture thingy. So apologies if I didn't leave a comment last week - I probably did try to!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Twisty Manger...

So,  I wanted to design a few more Christmas cards to take along to the Christmas Fair at the start of December and this is the first of them.  

Twisty Manger

Although I can't claim to be very religious at all, (I'm currently going through an agnostic phase after a lifetime of just accepting that God existed despite the overwhelming evidence of millions of years of evolution)  I do think that it seems every year we seem to get further and further away from what Christmas actually means and what we are supposed to be celebrating.  

Commercialism is alive and well at Christmas more than any other time of the year, it would seem, and so with that in mind, I wanted to create Christmas card designs that actually relate to what Christmas traditionally means incorporating my usual Twisty Towns (and with the inclusion of cute animals of course!) 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

And in other news....

Well, it’s been an eventful week in my world of art. Here’s what’s been happening:

• I got a message on Facebook from an old college friend looking for a commissioned pointy pet portrait of his girlfriend’s dog. Funny enough, it’s another wee French Bull Dog! I’m just waiting for some photos and then I can get started on it.

• I restocked my Etsy and Folksy shops last Saturday and the same evening got an email via Etsy inviting me to take a stall at a Christmas fair being organised by a woman’s group in a town about 40 minutes away from where I live. There’s no charge for the stall and there’s no admission on the door so it should hopefully attract a lot of interest.

It’s on a Thursday evening at the start of December so I’ll need to get out of work early but S has kindly resigned himself to taking me there and helping me set up! The hall will be decorated with Christmas music playing and after the stalls finish selling there’ll be Christmas carollers so I’m really looking forward to that as I do love a good Christmas atmosphere! I’ll need to get working on a few more Christmas card designs and S is going to make some more of his wee wooden candle holders and wooden apple tree decorations to sell. (Did I mention before that he's turned his hand to woodturning and is creating all sorts of lovely wee wooden bits and bobs?)

• I got a bid accepted on People Per Hour for the very first time!! This is a website where people who need work done can post an advert and then freelancers (artists, secretaries, IT Professionals, etc) bid for the jobs they are interested in. I’ve bid for a few before but never been successful. This one is to design a logo for a vegan bakery (I know, it’s like serendipity!) I’ve been given a brief of what the logo should include and I’ve been working on drafts all week with the client. I'm hoping to get the design completed today and I’ll blog the design once she’s happy with the work.

As for work in progress this week, I’m still working on Le Roy – he’s had to take a bit of a back seat while I got on with the bakery logo but I don’t have too much more to do on him. I’ve also started a couple of new oil paintings. I wanted to do something completely different subject-wise and so re-visited my favourite photo resource website, Paint my Photo, which I used many times when I was doing the sketchbook project last year. I found two photos I really liked:

Credit: Alun Davies -

Credit: Robyn Lovelock -

I spent about 20 minutes searching our (admittedly untidy) computer den where I currently store all my art supplies looking for two long thin canvasses that I knew I had. It was only when I went into our bedroom and noticed them hanging above our bed that I remembered I’d already used them!

All was not lost however as, during my search, I discovered 3 similarly shaped canvasses that I could use instead. We’d been given them as a gift several years ago and they already had an abstract print on them but, as we’d changed our d├ęcor, they no longer went in our hallway and so had been relegated to gathering dust on top of the wardrobe. Wanting to do my bit for the whole reduce, recycle, reuse movement, I decided to see if I could paint over them. As the material isn’t canvas but more like a sort of nylon/plastic type material I wasn’t sure if it would work but so far so good.

I started them both at the same time as I remembered just how long it takes oil to dry between each coat. One week later and one of them was still wet, although that’s possibly because I applied the paint in thick blobs of colour. Anyway, I haven’t managed to work any further on it just yet but this is the work in progress so far:

Step 1 - black and grey 'undercoat' and the original print I've painted over

Step 1

Step 2 - and now taking forever to dry .

The second one is a night time cityscape in Tasmania, Australia. The first week I just outlined the basic shapes in black and grey tones and then last week I started adding some colour. I’m just experimenting with the application process at the moment. I really want to master pointillism and as such I am using colour straight from the tube without mixing it first. I’m not sure I’ll be giving Monsieur Seurat a run for his money just yet but I’m enjoying just messing about with it. The only downside is I can only get so far before I have to leave it for another week or so or else I just end up blurring all the colours together into a muddy mess!

The prints I painted over and my step 1

Step 1 - black and grey tones to loosely mark in the buildings

Step 2 - adding some colour (with the rubber 'smudger' on the end of an eyeliner pencil!)

Anyway, sorry it’s a bit of a long post but it’s been such an eventful week and I’ve never been much good at making a long story short! Happy Paint Party Friday to you all and don't forget to pop over there to see the ever increasing abundance of artistic talent joining in the fiesta!

Oh, and best news of all, it seems that Lennox may have had a stay of execution as his family did manage to lodge a fresh appeal last week!! It might not be over just yet after all!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Paint Party Friday...the rainbow bridge...

It's been a while since I added to my Walkies series of ACEOs and I thought I would do one of Lennox, who, regular readers of my blog will know, has become the unfortunate poster dog for all that is wrong with Breed Specific Legislation.  


He lost his fight against Belfast City Council's decision to put him down for 'looking' like a pit bull.  Today was the last day his family could lodge a fresh appeal based on an error in law. At this point, I don't know if they've been able to, but I wanted to mark this day with a tribute to this wee dog and the love he has inspired in people all over the world.  

I wanted to depict him running free outdoors where he hasn't been in over 18 months.  There is a poem called The Rainbow Bridge which inspired the background to this painting, although even now, at the last chance saloon, I am hoping for a miracle for this wee dog and that he won't be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge just yet. 

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday as always - my favourite group of artists and creatives online.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Paint Party Friday...watchoo lookin at?

Le Roy, French Bull Dog 

I quite like Twitter.  Not so much Facebook (especially because they keep changing the layout and telling me what my top stories are. Er, I'll decide what I want to see for myself actually Facebook)  Anyway, Twitter -I like that, apart from my sister and my husband, every other person I follow and who follows me is someone I know only in the virtual world of the interweb.  I like that I can follow people with the same interests as me.  That's artists, animal lovers/welfare folk/charities, doggy folk and vegans, for the most part, although I am still partial to following the odd celebrity, wedding and lifestyle blogger.

One such person is Maegan from Love Maegan.  She wears fabulous clothes and accessories, blogs about fashion, home and lifestyle, works part time in an art gallery as a graphic designer and she often posts photos on Twitter of her adorable dogs, Le Roy, a French Bull Dog and Bebop who is a pug.  They're immensely cute and so I asked Meagan if she would mind if I used one of her photos as part of my windows to the soul series and she kindly said yes.  

This is the gorgeous photo I am using:

Credit: Meagan  at

How adorable is he?!  Anyway,  I planned to just do a watercolour painting of the eye. But then I decided that as Le Roy is just too cute I'd have to do his whole entire portrait instead. So,  I started a pointy portrait which is a work in progress as we speak.  I still wanted to paint his eyes though so instead of drawing them from scratch I sort of cheated and scanned what I'd done of the pointy portrait at the time and printed it out on sketchbook paper and added a bit of watercolour to it. It only took me about 20 minutes but I quite liked it. Until I added some more black dots around the nose and above the eye because I hadn't completed those bits on the actual pointy portrait.  I kinda ruined it right there. Hey ho.

Here's a sneaky peek of the pointy portrait:

Watchoo lookin at? - Le Roy the adorable French Bull Dog - Pen and Ink, Stippled.

Hope everyone has a happy Friday and I'll be sure to make my way round all the other Paint Party Friday party-goers over the weekend!


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