Monday, 3 June 2013

Big Skies, Little Planet

'As the moon shines silver' - watercolour postcard'

I mentioned on Sunday that I'd had a little flash of inspiration on a new series of whimsical illustrations a little similar to my Twisty Town series but different all the same.

Well, I spent Sunday bringing my ideas to life and so far I'm really quite pleased with how they've turned out.  I wanted to create simple ink illustration inspired by the local countryside - little cottages and small villages and the like but I wanted the skies to look as amazing as they often do way up here in the far north. 

'As the merry dancers flit across the northern skies' - watercolour postcard

Since we moved here we've spent many evenings and clear nights staring in awe at the massive skies above us (we've also spent just as many listening to the rain pelt off the windows but let's focus on nature's brighter side!) When the sun does shine, we get some amazing sunsets and because there is so little light pollution where we live, we can see millions of stars on a clear night, not to mention the wonder of the Northern Lights at the right time of year. Looking upwards you realise just how insignificant we really are so with that in mind, I decided to call this series 'Big Skies, Little Planet'

I decided to experiment with flicking paint on to the page using an old toothbrush.  I liked how it looked on a couple of initial trials but had originally drawn the little scene after flicking the paint and then decided I wanted the scene to really stand out. So, out came the masking fluid.

'As the stars twinkle on another village night' - watercolour postcard

I drew out the little scenes in pencil first then went over them carefully with Indian ink and a nibbed ink pen (careful because these pens tend to drop a blob of ink on the page just as you're finishing the last line!)

Once I was positively sure the ink was definitely dry (after being too impatient on one occasion), I erased the pencil lines and filled in the bits of the scene I wanted to stay white with masking fluid.

Then I had fun flicking watercolour paint over the page with a toothbrush (It is hard to get out of your nails afterwards though!)

'As the sun sets on another perfect day' - watercolour postcard

These illustrations were a lesson in patience for me as once again I had to make sure the paint was dry before adding a different colour or removing any of the masking fluid - which I did a bit at a time before adding more paint to certain parts of the scene - e.g. the hills.

Anyway,  they're such simple little illustrations but they do require time and patience which meant I was able to work on several at different stages of the process at the same time.  Bonus!

'As the north wind doth blow' - watercolour postcard

I've just added these to my Etsy shop where I plan to sell them as original art work/illustrations rather than as prints although I can make prints from them should they sell well.

I couldn't wait till Friday to post these so I'm breaking form and blogging on a Monday instead although I'm hoping to have some more finished by Friday anyway


  1. You have been busy - these are lovely, and I feel a bit giddy ! The last one is my favourite - love the bendy flower!

  2. I was a huge fan of your twisty towns and these are fabulous xxxx

  3. These are Fantastic!!! I just love the whole idea of little villages and cottages under big starry skies. That's one of the reasons your part of the world is so wonderful, and you have captured it brilliantly.

    You might want to order yourself a spatter brush tool for these. It gives you a bit more control over the size droplets than you get with a toothbrush.

  4. These look fabulous and it is fun that the idea came together so quickly... from idea to finished product in a day is worth breaking the blogging schedule for!!!! Looking forward to seeing many more of these...xx

  5. These are lovely, what a great technique! I love the black and white contrastings with the spattered colour. I think the first and last ones are my favourite, as I especially like the bendy wind-blown trees :)

  6. These are so lovely and original! Love the technique!

  7. These are adorable! I love the idea of using making fluid for this purpose and your toothbrush splashes are perfect. Love the little houses too!
    SO happy you're playing and voting and so happy to have you! Sorry about the poll today, it was being such a pain! I had to do some switching around and it is working now should you wan to try again. Can't wait to see your work next week, xo

  8. I absolutely LOVE these! They are SO quaint and SO pretty! I'll bet these will sell like little hot-cakes! Do you have a local shop that might be interested in selling them for you?
    I know what you mean about the nails. Oil paint is a particular nightmare! :0)

  9. It looks lovely, cute and sure worth all the patience you showed!

  10. Fantastic series. I love the toothbrush technique you've used, Nic. Beautiful results.

  11. What lovely illustrations with the Nic twist! As soon as I saw the one with the green in the sky I thought THE NORTHERN LIGHTS! Fantastic!

  12. I love these....I can see a kids book in the making.... What fun!!

    Hugs Giggles


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