Sunday, August 02, 2015

Linocuts. Linocats

This is our tabby cat, Clyde. We adopted him two years ago as his previous owners couldn't take him abroad with them when they had to move from England back to the United States. He used to be a house cat. Now we've given him his shots and he has learnt to love the outdoors.

Sleepy Clyde.

He has gorgeous markings. I've wanted to do a lino cut of him for a long time. Lots of printers have been inspired by their pet cats in the past.
Edward Bawden's linocut of a tabby cat with a ball of wool

Richard Bawden's kit

Eileen Mayo's woodcut cats are too adorable!

Ok, so the first thing I did was take some snaps of Clyde. This one looked okay as a starting point. Animals can be a proper pain to photograph. They never stay still.

Hey boy!

Then I decided to add a load of contrast to the image in Photoshop using the 'threshold' tool. This was to help me see the image clearly in monochrome. I want to do a lino cut in one colour only.
I've doodled some plants around him too.
If I was lazy I could have just printed this image and traced it onto my piece of lino to cut, but I consider myself an illustrator and I wanted to capture his personality and add my own drawing style to the print too. So I used this digital image as a reference to do a new sketch.
My sketched lino cut design of Clyde
Clyde has a huge nose and muzzle for a kitty and he has these markings above his eyes that look like eyebrows, so I emphasised these. Next I traced it onto my lino and started to cut out the design.
Awww. I love his cheeky face.
   Almost there...
It's so messy. There are lino shards everywhere.
And then I made some prints
They take a few days to dry in my living room. 
Here is the finished print. I used a Japanese Sumi-e paper because it's acid-free, environmentally friendly and it's really thin. The ink soaks into the paper really quickly and it has a nice texture.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Linocutes: The Girl Band

Annie's Accordion

Betty On Banjo

Bessie Plays Bass

The Musician set
Here is some of my work framed and ready for a show called 'Stages' that will be opening at the end of June at the new Quarry Theatre in Bedford. They are hand printed limited edition lino cuts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mill Race Folk

I have just finished this poster for a new night that is happening over at Bromham Mill Cafe. It's an acoustic, unplugged evening of folk music with the fabulous Stick In the Wheel headlining. They have been nominated for two BBC Radio 2 folk awards and the ceremony is tomorrow! Fingers and toes are crossed. I hope they win something.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Doodle Press

I've been a full time greeting cards illustrator for a while now, working in-house for various studios over the years. I've been at Doodle Press since the studio opened and I've loved every minute of it. It's a brilliant company to illustrate for as I get to work in an eclectic range of styles such as cute characters, florals and watercolors. Here are some samples of my designs taken from our new website. The full website shows off all the great work that myself and my talented colleagues do:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Latest Lino Cut Experiments

Here are a couple of lino cuts I have been working on at home. A female bassist and a red squirrel. I have plans to cut 2 other female musicians to go with the bassist and sketches in place for multi coloured bird lino prints.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seventeenth Night

The poster I have illustrated for Seventeenth Night
My friends Jack Sharp from the band Wolf People and singer songwriter, Davy Willis have got me involved with a night of acoustic music. We will be singing some covers and performing our own songs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Playing live in Bedford

The Bedford Oxjam Takeover raised £4600 this weekend. The music festival has been running in Bedford for three years. I was the opening act, so I was very nervous. I had played in a band when I was at school, but all the arrogance and confidence of my youth had dissipated since then and I was feeling terrified.
Playing at St. Cuthbert's Hall in Bedford
We didn't get off to the best of starts. The volunteers who were doing the sound desk were having technical difficulties with the p.a. system. My gig was suppose to start at 12:10pm. Half an hour later they still weren't ready to go, so I decided to play the whole thing without amplification. The next band were scheduled to play at 1pm and I didn't want to over-run.
I had to play completely unplugged!
 Fortunately everyone gathered round and I managed to play a set without breaking down into tears or being physically sick! Find out more about the whole day on the Bedford Blog and Board website.
The following day, I played at Bromham Mill
The next day I played 4 songs at Apple Day in Bromham, Bedfordshire along with some amazing singer songwriters from Bedford who have many more years experience than me. I was so annoyed with myself because I couldn't hear what I was doing. The speaker was positioned on my deaf side! Once I worked out what my issue was I managed to play my last two songs with more confidence. It was really windy and I had a lot of hair in my mouth. Hopefully I will play more in the future and try and beat my nervousness and get some more experience.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Me Playing Live Is As Rare As Rocking Horse S**t

On Saturday 18th of October Bedford is hosting it's own Oxjam festival. The takeover is a sweet idea: A bunch of bands play all over town at various venues for the whole day. Punters pay £8 for a wristband that gets them entry everywhere. It starts early and goes on until late and all the money goes to charity.

I've only played once this year. I been offered a few gigs but had to turn them down because they all clashed with various weddings I had to attend (there were six this year). Before that my last show was in 1998. I play and sing everyday at home and although I've written a whole album's worth of songs I just can't seem to motivate myself to perform in front of an audience. 

I play well in a finger picking style, but my voice isn't great, although I can sing in tune, it'll be too breathy for some tastes. I've tried to change it, but I can't fight what comes out of my mouth. 

The thing is... This could be my last gig in Bedford for ages, so it'll probably be the only chance for people to come and see me. As an unknown quantity to the organisers, they've put me on at brunch-time. It's going to be dead quiet, but the hall is incredible so at least I got lucky with the venue.

Maybe designing my own gig poster might persuade more people to come out and see me play. It sort of looks like what the music sounds. You can play lyrics bingo with it during my set.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Bee Design

Here's a funny thing! It appears one of my designs I did for Ashlea at Bunnycup Embroidery has been subject to copyright infringement. I am not aware of the company who have cheekily used the design, but I thought I would share the sketches of the bee illustration  in question so I can explain what makes the bee our own. 

I have a the original file from 30 May 2008. I work digitally, so I originally sketched freehand with a wacom tablet ( a digital pen to non-graphic designers, so the rough sketch goes straight on to the screen). 

The lines were naturally a bit wobbly, so I traced over the sketch in Illustrator (I've attached a screen shot so you can see the work in progress with all the vector lines from the original file).

If you type 'cute bee illustration' into google or bing, you do get a lot of clipart in this similar simple style, but things that make it my own are the thicknesses in the outline, the trail flight line path that loops then swoops under the bee, the wings are identical, they are mirrored... and the eye size and position on the head identifies the bee as being the same one I drew. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sketches From The Frog Chorus at Bedpop

Yesterday I had a shift at the Bedpop pop-up shop on Bedford High Street. I was manning the till and keeping an eye on the vintage exhibition by The Circus of Illustration (which is doing quite well! We are selling lots of lovely artwork!).

Whilst I was there, The Frog Chorus were there running an arts workshop especially for children and it was very lively indeed!

What Is the Frog Chorus?
The Frog Chorus is an interactive early years music group, based in Bedford. They perform songs live with rhymes and puppets and dancing. Kristine Wilkinson Hughes (aka Coco) led the 'Tadpole Jamboree' along with help from Tatty Bumpkin (aka Sam). Tatty Bumpkin runs children's yoga workshops which is like story telling with movement and lots of stretching!

I thought I'd try to sketch all the activities that were happening around me. Tricky since there was so much motion and gesticulation... But I gave it my best shot! Click on the images for a closer look!

Mimi provided the tea and cake as the proud parents look on.

Coco tells a story as parents and children eagerly listen

I forgot my sketchbook, so I had to doodle on loose paper. I added colour to the scans in Photoshop.

Stretching and floor exercises during Tatty Bumpkin yoga

More quick sketches from yoga class.