I wanted to draw something for Easter as I did during Advent - but found this an even harder task to get quite as I wanted (striking images that are meaningful without being cliché). In the end I did the following drawings but not quite happy with any of them. Click to view larger and see captions for some of the thoughts behind them.
I've been quiet on here for a while - mostly because my creative energy has gone into planning my own wedding back in October. I designed all of the stationery from invitations to service sheet to place settings - see below.
Inspiration came from our overgrown back garden, pictures of ivy covered buildings, and various collage artists that I've always liked - Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, etc.
I was also inspired by a series of collages by Lee McKenna (left) as I thought they combined foliage with ephemera well. I scanned in some ivy leaves (see below) to collage but then thought it would be a shame not to draw them myself so did some paintings of ivy in colour and black and white, that I then used throughout the wedding stationery.
I made several pages of mini collages that I was then able to select from and combine with the ivy for other sections of stationery.
These required a lot of touching up and minor colour edits until I was happy with them. There was also a long process of experimenting before I was happy with how to combine the collage and ivy sections with text.
In the end I used a font called 'Angel Tears' (yep...) as the basis for the calligraphy text, but traced it myself so I could make some of the letters look better. The plain serif font used was 'Fontin'. I drew a map for the inside of the invitation, and also one of the inside of the reception venue for the service sheet. I also designed envelope liners but we never used them (stationery madness). I've blurred personal details but hope you get an idea from the images below - click to see full images and captions.
Here are some pictures of the final designs in situ (photos by Guy Collier Photography):
It's left a bit of a vacuum in my creative life now it's over but I'm looking forward to starting some new projects and getting back to commissions.
Some of my latest pages for the altered book project I've been working on with illustrator/print-maker Hannah Hunter-Kelm and photographer Ella Dickinson:
I wasn't able to make Alice's hen in Paris, so I sent some things over instead:
Above: Pin the garter on the bride, sent with accompanying lace garter (phone photo so not great quality)
Above: Hen masks (click to see full images)
Happy hen Alice!
I had a few days in France last week with my parents - was a great chance to do some sketching, partly because my dad (James Nairne) brought lots of really nice pens that I was able to use (thanks pa). I really need to be more active in my sketchbook and less precious about it - it keeps me drawing more regularly and builds my confidence with experimentation. Here's my sketchbook pages from the trip (click to see full size and scroll through images):
The bottom left sketch was my first experience using liquid pencil - pretty weird stuff. Easy to move around but quite a strange texture, not sure how I felt about it but interesting to try.
I've been working for a while now on an altered book project with talented friends Hannah Hunter-Kelm (illustrator/printmaker) and Ella Dickinson (photographer) - click here to see previous blog posts. I thought I might use this blog post to show my process as I worked on my latest contribution to the project.
The book we've been working into is the lovely Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by E H Shepard - it lends itself well to the project as the narrative contains many interesting phrases that inspire a visual response, and Shepard's silhouette illustrations can be incorporated into our own contributions or add to the overall feel of the artwork.
I've been using a lot of collage during this project - I love collage and don't get the opportunity to use it that often in commissions so I've been taking this as an opportunity to do so. It has also been interesting to work with Hannah and Ella as artists who have very different approaches. Part of the challenge for me has been to think forward to what they might add to the pages and part of the enjoyment has been to see how they interpret the project. Hannah's style is much more colourful and playful than mine (I tend to use black and white or limited colour palettes), and she experiments more. Ella uses her photography to complement the text, and draws out social justice and current event themes that add a new dimension to the book. I try and keep this in mind as I work on the book and prepare pages for them.
Click images above to see in full.
Left: An interesting phrase had been left framed by some striped paper - I removed the paper as I thought I'd like to put something surrounding the phrase that fitted more with the text.
Right: I usually then go through the next few pages and highlight any particular phrases that I find interesting.
I was pretty sure I had some collage images that showed destruction after a tornado - the phrases I'd been looking at conjured up ideas of rubble and dust. I also found a black and white image (from a leaflet I picked up at the Wellcome Collection) of a flat landscape that I thought would work for the following page, and complimented the other collage pieces in terms of colour and texture. The image with the mushroom cloud is by Walid Raad.
For the 'escape' page - I decided the mushroom cloud picture would work best as it would split well across the double page spread.
I decided to work into it more - mostly because I wanted to make the page 'mine' rather than just the work of another artist.
The next page included some text about the heart sinking and losing hope. Melancholy themes also seem to allow for more visually interesting ideas, and work with my style of art, and seem to recur in my work. I picked out those phrases and set out to represent them visually in paint:
Above: work in progress using my favourite materials - white gouache, ink and pencil.
Above: final page spread. I added in some black lines with a brush pen and worked into the background a bit more.
I also completed a few more spreads that you can see in the gallery below. Click to see the full images and scroll through them. I left the last couple fairly minimal as I thought that Hannah and Ella might see some ways to work into them further. There are no real rules in this project - we all seek to respect each other's work but we can work into pages that another has done, so it will be interesting to see where they add more.
Hope this was an interesting insight into one aspect of my work - let me know if you'd like to see more posts like this!
I've been working as Curatorial Project Co-ordinator for an exhibition at House of Illustration called 'Pushing the Envelope' (click link to learn more), and cheekily have submitted my own envelope artwork to be displayed alongside the illustrators we've asked to participate. I know I'm biased, but have a look at the House of Illustration website or follow them on twitter as it is a fantastic place with really fun exhibitions.
(pencil, pen, gouache on brown paper envelope)
I've been working on this painting over the last few evenings - it is based on lyrics from the song 'Farewell Appalachia' by Stornoway (a fantastic band if you don't know them already). I now wish I'd put more time and thought into the composition because I like to think a really fantastic painting could convince one of the members of Stornoway to marry me and/or commission me to illustrate their next album cover. Hey, maybe next time eh?
Ink, gouache, watercolour pencil, graphite pencil, pen.
I've been working on this painting for a few weeks now, just doing an hour here and there - and it is finally finished. It is inspired by a line from a song by Radical Face called 'Welcome Home'. Apologies to my friends/family members who know about ships who will spot all the mistakes in the ropes, etc. This piece is done entirely by hand - no digital colouring or touching up.
"Ships are launching from my chest" - pencil, ink, gouache, watercolour pencil. Approx 26 x 39 cm.
I think I'll have it produced as a print to buy at some point but for now I'm keeping it to myself... Click images below to view detail.
Keep up to date with my most recent projects.