Sunday, December 30, 2012

Finland Illustration

I have a friend called Tiia who comes from Finland and last summer she took us on holiday to her parent's lake-side cabin in Porrisaari, just outside the Arctic Circle. Her dad is a carpenter and he built it himself. I think Porrisaari means reindeer island and we saw loads of them along with red squirrels, owls, snow geese, siberian jays and moose!
 This Christmas she went back to visit her folks and she's been posting loads of snowy photos on Facebook and I feel like going back there! To top it all,  BBC4 screened a documentary on Boxing Day on the life of the incredible Tove Jansson. Sadly, when I was in Finland the only moomin I saw was at Helsinki airport and he was made of plastic.

Photos of my holiday to Finland: Summer 2011.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cute Knitting Illustration

I have time off work during the period between Christmas and New Years, so I have decided to try and learn how to knit a jumper for myself. I can crochet pretty well and I can knit and purl my way through many a scarf. Thankfully Bedford library has come up trumps again with loads of knitting manuals and youtube is chock full of tutorials too, so I think it might be a mission I can handle! 

However, to commemorate this challenge, I have spent today doodling a weird self-portrait of this future endeavor. I used photoshop for this. I don't think the watercolour painting is working out for me. I'm actually feeling a bit glum about my function as an illustrator these days. Maybe my new sweater will cheer me up. I shall knit it whilst eating mince pies and chocolate, in front of the television, as I've recorded loads of festive films to watch. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snow Globe designs

I've just completed 12 new designs for Bunnycup Embroidery. They are cute snow-globes for machine embroidery projects. I think Ashlea wants them to be applique, so I think I've made them a little bit too frilly. They might need simplifying.

These are the last freebies for digital stampers and anyone who's been looking for colouring pages for this year. They do take quite a while to do. The linework is all done digitally.  In 2013 I will be opening a little online shop for digital stampers, as I could do with a little bit of extra money and I have noticed that there have been lots of people downloading the black and white images. It's great to know that there is an appetite for my artwork, but a girl needs to pay the bills in these tough times!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Illustration Friday: Explore

I've had a quiet afternoon, so was able to participate in Illustration Friday. The topic is 'explore', so I thought of space exploration. I think it popped into my mind because Nasa was in the news this week. They say they are planning to launch a new rover to Mars in 2020, the technology will be based on the their Curiosity robot, which landed on the Red Planet in August.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Grace Lutheran College

Last week I was contacted by Megan Devlin who is a Visual Art teacher at Grace Lutheran College
in Caboolture, Australia. One of her (very talented) year 8 art pupils, Kristen Catterall, had recently designed an illustration to accompany a short story written by another student at the school.

It turns out she had visited this blog and was inspired by one of my linocuts! That's a first! Megan wrote to ask permission to use her image in a book that will be self published. There will be a copy each for their Campus libraries, a copy for their sister primary school, and a copy each for the students. What a great project! I wish my school did something like that!

Well, how could I refuse? On the back page I will get an acknowledgement of my original design and it's copyright too, which is so sweet.

So, want to see Kristen's illustration? Here it is! She's done a grand job, I hope she wants to be an artist when she leaves college, I think she has a great future ahead of her. I especially like the colours she chose and she's been more detailed than me and added some background context to the character.
Illustration By Kristen Catteral, year 8
I'll be sending Kristen a handprinted copy of my original linocut to her at her school, but as it's their summer holiday now, she probably won't get it until 2013.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wrapping Up Warm

Today I woke up to the first dusting of snow on Bedford, so it's feeling quite Christmassy. It's so cold inside the house, I have taken to working with a hot water bottle on my lap, slippers, a blanket and I wear at least two jumpers. For the moment, I am too stingy to put the heating on... but I suffered from chilblains last year so I suppose I'll have to spend money on gas and keeping warm at some point.

Yesterday I was off work. The recession has hit so I'm contracted to work 3.5 days a week for now. I'm hopeful things will pick up and I will be able to go full time again very soon, but all I can do is cross my fingers. I decided to do watercolour painting and have a break from the computer, though I was tempted to make a cake. I think I was trying to channel Charles M Schulz and Tove Jansson whilst making this picture.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Great Bedfordian Illustration for The Clanger

This is an illustration for The Bedford Clanger, our local arts newspaper. Each month they focus on a great Bedfordian from history and this issue they asked me to do the illustration for James Wyatt.

Wyatt was founder of the Bedfordshire Times and he was a leading campaigner for public health and sanitation reforms. He was passionate about changing the lives of ordinary Bedfordians. In 1855 he created the cemetery at Foster Hill Road, which is so close to the house where I grew up you can see it from my old bedroom window.

Wyatt was also a pioneer in archaeology and geology, so in February's issue, there's to be a follow up covering this side of his greatness! I get to illustrate for the Clanger two months in a row.

Friday, November 30, 2012

An Illustration of My Allotment

This has been the first full year of having my own allotment, so here is a little illustration to celebrate. It's been a hard year for gardeners apparently, but I did manage to successfully grow a few tasty things like cabbage greens, sunflowers, parsnips, potatoes, lettuces and courgettes amongst other things that I wouldn't have room for in my courtyard garden at home. For the purpose of the drawing I've been a little bit creative with the truth...

My pumpkins weren't as huge as this!

My watering can isn't as funky as this.

There is an allotment cat who always says hello when I'm there. I don't know it's real name but I call him Licorice. He's really black and white with a big black patch on his mouth and I've never seen him wear a sun hat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recent Watercolours

Winter Garden
Badger Nap

Red Cello Blue Boots
I thought I'd post some images of the watercolour prints that are up in Pensieri over Christmas. I've no idea if anyone will like them enough to buy any of the prints, but at least it was enjoyable painting in my evenings. My fella has been mega busy trying to finish his new album, so I've needed something to do. It's definitely more interesting than watching telly. My favourite one is 'Badger Nap'... Because I really love badgers!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Illustration Friday: Zoom

copyright Marisa Straccia 2012

This is an A4 watercolour and pencil illustration of Midnight Mary zooming around on her motorcycle with her cat, Blanko clinging on at the back.

From the 25th November, it will up in an exhibition at The Place Theatre in Bedford along with other work from the Circus of Illustration. It's part of The New Writes Nights, hosted by Novus Theatre who  want to zoom in on new local playwrights.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Circus of Illustration at Pensieri

Pensieri (34 Ram Yard, Bedford) is one of Bedford’s fantastic independent shops. A place for delicious coffee, scrumptious cakes, remarkable gifts… And illustration!

The latest exhibition to grace the walls of Maria’s gorgeous boutique is from The Circus of Illustration a collective of professional illustrators from Bedfordshire. That includes me! We've been promoting illustration through various weekend workshops in our town, like at the Drawing Room on Mill Street or at the latest Pride In Bedford mural in Queen’s Park.

On display, there is a mixture of beautiful original art and prints for sale, so do drop in and treat yourself to coffee and cake and enjoy the exhibition. It’s a great opportunity to pick up some unique presents for Christmas.

Here's some photos taken by Andrew Foster of the gallery wall. Many thanks to the talented Kristian Purcell of The Higgins for helping us do the hanging. We would have been lost without him!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Here are a few snowman illustrations ready for Bunnycup. Again there are 12 in the set and Ashlea should have them ready for machine embroidery users in time for Christmas.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Pensieri Preview

Red Cello Blue Boots 

Winter Garden
On the 14th of November the Circus of Illustration will be exhibiting some of our work in Pensieri, one of Bedford's gorgeous independent cafes/ gift shops. It will be up until January.

I've been working really hard on getting some work together, I have some linocuts and a couple of embroideries, but it's the painting that's been keeping me busy in my evenings. As my day to day artwork is digital I think that illustrating in my free time needs to be created away from the computer.

These pieces are nearly done, just a few touch ups in Photoshop and I think I'm there. I've one more watercolour that I want to finish then I should be ready to frame them. This body of work has no theme, I just like drawing cute girl characters. I have no message to the world, I'm not an true artist, just someone who gets her kicks from drawing things that look cute.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Christmas Village Applique

Over at Bunnycup Embroidery Ashlea has just stitched out some of my Christmas village drawings. She's transformed them into some really cute applique designs. I hope all machine embroidery users out there will find a lot of fun in using these in their Christmas projects.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Midnight Mary Sketches

Midnight Mary and her white cat, Blanko, are a couple of characters that have been swimming around my head recently. 
Maybe all these years working on my own at home are starting to send me a bit mad. I started doodling these little characters whilst watching a twee baking programme on the telly.

Mary's a schoolgirl, and a sort of goth, but she'd rather wear knitwear than black.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cute Bears: A Step By Step

Here's a step by step on how I work up my cute characters for Doodle Press.
This week I have been working on some 'Thank You Teacher' designs using the owl and tortoise characters from our super cute Happy Hollow range.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Carousel pattern

I thought I'd fool around with the carousel animals a little since I love them so much! I spotted a competition via Twitter over at Tigerprint, that I can't enter unfortunately, but I liked the brief so I thought I'd try it as an exercise.  

I can see this pattern working quite well as school stationery or in soft furnishings. I would have liked it in my bedroom as young girl, maybe matched with some hot pinks. They're cute carousel animals, but the black and white scheme is quite sophisticated so I wonder if there's actually a clash of styles here! 

There are some really nice entries on the site, so if you fancy your chances I think there is still a week to go if you want to take part.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Carousel animals

free coloring page
free coloring page
free colouring page
Here are three of the twelve carousel animal embroidery designs I have finished this weekend for Ashlea over at Bunnycup. They are simple but cute black and white illustrations. Someone mentioned  that these line drawings would be good to print out and use as fun coloring page for their children on a rainy day or as a indoor party activity, so if you think your kids would find that fun too then let me know if it was successful!

Other posts on this blog that might make good colouring pages for kids are:
Gingerbread men (could be good at a Christmas party)
Blossom Babes (They are like little flower fairies)

So feel free to print and colour and if you'd like to stay up to date, I'm now on twitter @madamebogg

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Drawing Room: My Thoughts

The Circus of Illustration.
Photos By Andrew Foster. Wanna see more? Check out The Circus of illustration facebook page.
We made it as democratic as possible, which funnily enough resulted in what looks like anarchy. It was free to join in and the only rules were no swears and no saucy body parts (the rule was broken, but David used his skills to transform the offending article into an elephant). People of all ages, cultures and abilities got stuck in together. Families and individuals arrived to find a welcoming lively creative space. 

The Circus of illustration

The room was a shop front, so passing pedestrians would stop, and have a good look at the hustle and bustle of the spectacle inside. Some were intrigued enough to join in and find out more, others took photos. The public seemed genuinely amused with what was happening.

PHEW! It got so hot in there! The south facing glass frontage magnified the heat of the warm September sun. The smell of marker pens mixed with the odour of busy bodies wasn't exactly fragrant, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. Everyone who participated did so with much enthusiasm.

The naughtiness of drawing on walls and furniture, activities that are usually strictly forbidden at home really delighted the children who took part. 

the Circus of Illustration, Bedford

We couldn't control what or where stuff was being drawn, so it was a surprise to walk around the room once the shop was emptied. So many little details (a beautifully swirly table leg), and written messages ('Paul Young woz here'), and naughtiness (a catheter attached to a whoopee cushion) and odd characters (a cloud throwing up a rainbow) were discovered.

The day was a huge success. The final head count was almost 250 people over the 6 hours the pop-up shop was open for.

If you want to see the fun results of a day of collaborative buzzing doodling energy, the Drawing Room is at 24 Mill Street in Bedford until 23rd of September. It's opened to go into on Saturday 22nd where you can check out Anne-Marie Stijelja's Mail Art  exhibition in the adjacent room!

bedford Drawing Room

Finally, a HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Kayte Judge of We Are Bedford. For the Circus, putting on this event has been a doddle compared to all the boring admin, fine-tuning and stressful meetings required for organising these empty shop projects. The behind the scenes work shouldn't go unnoticed and it's not easy to do. So Kayte, on behalf of the Circus of Illustration, we salute you. Thanks for giving us this opportunity to put on our illustration show for Bedford.