Saturday, 10 September 2016

2015 Inktober

Now this is going to be quite an image heavy post so beyond this intro I’ll try and keep the text to the minimum. For those who don’t know I will explain that Inktober is a challenge that happens every October to create one ink drawing for every day of the month. Now I hadn’t tried this challenge before and wasn’t certain exactly what type of images I should be creating so I just rolled with it and made them out of every type of ink in my possession!
I think I have these in order of creation so here we go...

Rover - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Bug - 5 x 7"

I kept up fairly well with the challenge, missing a day or two and then caught up by making a few speedy extras on other days. I will say it was difficult! 

Tero and Toco, dressed for Halloween - 5 x 7"

Not all of my illustrations went to plan and trying to figure out a new thing to ink every day was harder than I anticipated. Oh and then there was the small issue of having massive hard drive failure half way through the month – eeek! >.<

The Fallen - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Thankfully I didn’t lose any work but it did slow my progress when it came to showing my efforts online.

I Hate Mondays - 5 x 7"
Oh we all know this feeling...

Pinnacle Point - 5 x 7"

Delicious - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

October tends to be a busy month for me because I love Halloween and my husband and I like to put on fancy dress and go to the local park to watch fireworks and hand out free glow sticks to the kids. It’s always fun with a big bonfire, hot dogs, hot chocolate and of course meeting the locals.

Acid Gaze - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Autumn Magic - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"

Not only that but my husband and I got married on October 27th so we have our wedding anniversary to celebrate only a few days before Halloween ^_^ (and yes we had a Halloween themed reception!!)

Spirit Cat Hat - 7 x 5"
Yes I really own not one but two of these cat hats ^_^

After Dark - 5 x 4"

I ended up with thirty-four small illustrations by the end of the month so I was very pleased I decided to give this challenge a go. ^_^

Thought Cup - 5 x 4"
More people connected with this image than I thought - go figure.

My approach for most, although not all, of these began by staining various sized pieces of Bristol vellum card with ink backgrounds. This was a good starting point to get my imagination going since I do suffer from ‘blank paper syndrome.’ By simply throwing down some colours I found it easier to image shapes, scenes, creatures, characters and of course since it was October plenty of Halloween themed ideas!

Don't Buy Local Lamplight - 5 x 4"
Ok this was inspired by a band I was listening to named Idlewild. They have a song which repeats the lyrics 'don't buy local lamplight.'  The song is on their 100 Broken Windows album and is named, 'I Don't Have the Map,' which I guess is quiet fitting to how lost I felt in this art mission! Just in case you want to check it out. My drawing has little to do with the song other than it involves a lamp lol.

Death on Stilts - 7 x 5"
This one was inspired by a local group of juggling/stage performers named Kinshira. We went to watch their show and I was very moved. One awesome character was indeed death, literally on stilts!
I wasn't so happy with the way this turned out as a piece of art but hey-ho, moving on..

Dandelion - 5 x 4"
Inspired by the big beautiful dandelions that grow around our house - they are the size of tennis balls!

Black Widow - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"
Yeah we have these too ¬.¬

Orca - 4 x 5 "
Because I watched the film Black Fish, twice, cried insanely both times!!

Rain - 5 x 4"
Comfy ^_^

Panda Gets It Wrong - 5 x 4"
Based on an online conversation about bra burning - I was very wrong about the facts, oops.

Gravestones - ACEO - 3.5 x 2.5"

Spectre - 5 x 4"
I'm guessing we watched a horror film that night...

The Forest - 4 x 5"
Experimental line work

The Bonfire - 5 x 4"
Love bonfires!! ^_^

Coffee - ACEO - 2.5 x 3.5"
This is close to my heart ... and sanity.

Murmuration - 5 x 4"
I didn't know a flock of birds moving this way was called a murmuration, now I do :)

The Divide - 5 x 4"

The Writing Desk - 4 x 5"
Of course this one has a special place in my heart! Made using only Parker writing ink too.

Tornado City - 4 x 5"

Little Dark One - 5 x 4"
Given you both the line work and then the messy inking I did afterwards. Keir is one of my original characters, the youngest and possibly strangest so I couldn't resist adding him to Inktober. The piece is called 'Little Dark One,' because that is what the name Keir is said to mean, very fitting!

The Atlas Moth - 4 x 5"
Wanted to let loose with splatters :)

Campfire Tales - ACEO - 3.5 x 2.5"
Another original character but mostly wanted to make something creepy.

To the Flame - 5 x 4"
I lost count by the end of the month so ended up with two extras. This is the first and I quite like it.

Stone Sitter - 7 x 5"
This was my second extra and I'm not fond of it. Some nice qualities in there but would need some work I think. Never-mind, I survived the whole month and some - hooray!!

Would I take this challenge again? Yes, I think I would despite the fact that October is a busy month I was pleased with several of the illustrations I created and it really helped pull me out of my sluggish comfort zone and get creative! Anyone can take part since it is a self-set challenge so I also enjoyed seeing what others made during the month. Why don’t you give it a go? You might be pleasantly surprised at what you end up creating! :)

Saturday, 27 August 2016

2015 Storybook Work

I had the ultimate good fortune in 2015 to be commissioned by the wonderful Darcy Nybo for several projects. Two of those were children’s stories she had written. The first was Emma Jean Finds a Friend. After browsing some of my illustrations Darcy hit upon a wonderful idea that would incorporate them into a lovely little fantasy tale. There were gaps of course so she commissioned me to create the extra drawings required. 

The sweetest part of this is that she chose two ACEO illustrations I had created of my sister-in-law’s daughter Liv to be the main character of Emma Jean! ^_^ Thus little Liv is now famous and all because her mother commissioned me to illustrate her holding the slugs that she loves so much.

The story itself is cute too, as I am sure the below images will display. The illustrations shown are without the text since Darcy added that later. I would say more about the content and surprising ending but I don’t want to give away spoilers!

Emma Jean Finds a Friend


In the Clearing

Cat Stretch

That Tickles!

Light at the End of the Caverns

Be my Friend

If you are interested in seeing more, Emma Jean has a facebook page here:

You can also purchase a copy (physical or ebook, free on kindle unlimited) from Amazon here:

The second book we worked on together was illustrated entirely from scratch. The story is told from the point of view of a cat and dog named Sam and Gina, who just so happen to be pets Darcy herself owned as a child. Again I won’t reveal what happens but it is a cheeky little tale.

I have only included a selection of the images I created for this just to give you an overview and as read, so as not to spoil the story. I found this project quite challenging since the characters were not my own. It took quite a bit of back and forth design altering to get to a point where we were both satisfied with the look. After some nifty editing by Darcy I think the final came out wonderfully.
Again the images shown as those prior to the text being added since Darcy took control of the typography.

Bark Swat Crunch

Sam and Gina


A Well Earned Nap

Something Afoot

What’s That?

If you are interested in seeing more; Bark Swat has a facebook page here:  

You can also purchase a copy (physical or ebook - free on Kindle unlimited) from Amazon here: 

I have not had the pleasure of working on another storybook yet (in 2016) but I am hopeful I will get to try this again. As always I hope you enjoyed this blog entry and see you again next time. :)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

2015 Illustrations

Now I did an awful lot of illustrating in 2015 including two short storybooks and over thirty-one ink drawings for the Inktober challenge – wow!

However, this post isn’t about any of those drawings. Nope these are the other seven illustrations I created in 2015, which included three commissions. I really was having a lucky year for commissions!

I’ll start off with the largest of the set that wasn’t a commission. The below raven was a self-set challenge to draw an entirely black bird with its wings in perspective. I’ll admit I struggled with placing the initial sketch and it took some time to get my head around the skewed proportions. All in all, I think I was happy with the outcome. That said if I were to try a similar feat again I think I will incorporate more colours to blend a black rather than sticking to the true black pencils and pens I have in my sets.

 The Raven - Letter approx. 11 x 8.5”
Waterman ink wash, Micron ink, Prismacolour pencils and Sakura white gel pen on Bristol vellum card.

Speaking of black and white subjects the below rose was a nice little book cover commission for a novel titled Dark Moments written by Emma Brown and published by Darcy Nybo. Obviously the version I am showing here is the one without the typography added.

 Dark Moments - book cover commission – 9 x 6”
Watercolour markers and Prismacolour pencils on Bristol vellum card.
Pure black background added digitally.

The author was very clear about wanting a white rose with water droplets on a pure black background. I worked from a reference photo to create the sketch and shaded it using watercolour markers. Since the markers could never create a pure black background and the version sold was to be a digital copy, I then took the image into Photoshop to create the solid backdrop as required. I am not a great fan of drawing realistic flowers and don’t consider the subject one of my fortes, especially not roses! Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the end result turned out.

Now this below commission is one that I found very difficult to complete.

 Chloe – commission Letter approx. 11 x 8.5”
Waterman ink, Micron ink, Prismacolour pencils and Sakura white gel pen on Bristol vellum card.

It came about because a couple saw my previous illustration of Cat in a Sunbeam hanging in the local gallery. They asked if it would be possible for me to create a similar portrait of their daughter’s cat Chloe. Well of course I just couldn’t say no! Thankfully I had some paper with a similar ink wash. (That ink is one I just cannot find a good replacement for so I guess I won’t be making many more with that wonderful shade of brown for a backdrop.) I had quite a long time to complete the piece but decided to work on it solidly every day for a week and build it up section at a time. Trust me, mottled fur that goes in several directions is a good way to go cross-eyed and lose your place in a drawing! Still it was an excellent challenge since cats are a favourite subject of mine and I knew this was going to be a birthday gift for the owner.

Next up the below illustration is an unusual commission that I rather revered.

 The Mask – commission 6 x 4”
Waterman ink, Micron ink, Prismacolour pencils and Sakura white gel pen on Bristol vellum card.

This is a portrait of a good online friend of mine who asked if I could recreate his photograph. It’s not often I get asked to draw people even though I quite enjoy it and of course I really loved the focal point of the mask. We agreed on a price and size ahead of time as one should and I was away! I really enjoyed playing with textures for the background of this and walked him through every evolution of the illustration to ensure he was happy with the progress. Once the drawing was complete I popped it in the mail (and crossed my fingers that it made it to the US!!). He was so excited to receive it and very pleased with the final product– hooray! :D

On an entirely different note … the below is a requested image from my beloved husband. He had been asking for the longest time if I would make a portrait of one of his feline characters so I decided I would surprise him with a full illustration just like those I had previously made for my sister blog of Black Wednesday Isle. Well you knew there had to be at least one story related sketch in here!

 Eyl’Yti – character portrait - Letter approx. 11 x 8.5”
Watercolour markers and Prismacolour pencils on cartridge paper.

This fellow’s name is Eyl’Yti (pronounced eye-lit-eye). I didn’t go so far as to make a fictional interview with him since I am no longer making portraits for the other blog but my hubby was happy with my rendition of his character none-the-less.

This next one below is one of those little scrat sketches that I thought was really interesting and I’m certain no else did!

Unyielding – 5x4”
Parker, Indian and Micron ink plus gold acrylic paint on Bristol vellum card.

Beginning as a leftover sheet from the Inktober challenge I got really into the idea of time as a concept. The little figurines being examples of how we perceive, use or misuse our time. I like questioning if we are reaching, escaping, waiting, holding on to, letting go of or simply just watching our time pass us by. Yeah I can see why this concept was a weird one lol. I still really like it as a personal piece but that might be because I love pocket watches more than anything else!

Now I know it isn’t xmas right now at the time of posting but since this was one of the last illustrations I created in 2015 it made sense to end this blog post with it.

 Season’s Greetings – 4 x 5”
Waterman ink, Micron ink, Prismacolour pencils and Sakura white gel pen on Bristol vellum card.

It’s just a fun little sketch that I wanted to make as an alternative to all my previous ‘grumpy’ Sharlene over the holidays sketches, oh and yes to add in our adopted cat Pudding too. So a very happy season’s greetings from the 2015 cartoon version of me and the cat! ^_^