Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Weekend in Bruges

On the penultimate Friday of November we took an impulsive trip to Bruges. I say impulsive because generally, once we’re back from one holiday we have to plan another, and our last was in June. This trip however, was booked in October, and executed in such a casual fashion that I’m surprised my usual, methodical self could bear it. We even agreed to get the agonisingly slow London Midland train down to the capital on our way there. That’s precisely how laid back it was. 

Since my boyfriend and I became an item, I can safely say I’ve already seen more of the world than I ever did in my previous twenty one years. Mark is fairly well travelled and has seen a lot of the continent, so when it comes to these mini-trips to places he’s already been, it’s very handy. It means he can edit the itinerary according to the must-sees, scratching out the could-sees, and leaving plenty of time for dinner.

We arrived on the Friday afternoon after an early start, alighting finally at Station Brugge. Mark had the unfortunate task of lugging our case into the centre on the city, which is practically entirely cobbled, as you would hope a medieval town would be. Historic city centres with bell towers, squares, coloured buildings and cobbled streets seem to have become our thing. You can keep your sandy beaches, sun tans and trance music, thanks.

City Hall on the Burg square
The incredible gothic chamber inside City Hall

View from the belfy over-looking the Markt

Over our short two and a half day stay we pretty much walked every street in the historic centre. It's important to me to feel like I've really seen a place, because you never know if you'll get to visit again. We ensured that we climbed the bell tower, visited the town hall, and took plenty of pictures of buildings and bridges along the way.

The Chocolate Line - where the magic happens

Mark and I don't go a day without some sort of sweet treat or another. Whenever we go somewhere - even if it's a trip into town or to a neighbouring city - we've got to get treats. Thems the rules. It's never cheap, and it's never attractive when you've got chocolate and crumbs all round your chops, but it's always worth it. If this was a more frequent, perhaps lifestyle-y blog, I would definitely create an index for all the excellent chocolate and patisserie we're enjoyed over time.

The Chocolate Line is on the Markt square in the centre of bruges. There are so many weird and wonderful flavours to choose from, including the likes of bacon, fried onion, and curry chocolates (which of course we tried - really good, not even kidding). If you love good chocolate and you're ever in Bruges, you must stop here.

Another place that you definitely must visit if you're ever in Bruges, is 2be. It encompasses both a bar, with a romantic terrace that sits on the water's edge, and a shop full of the best belgian beers, foods and Tin Tin merchandise. What's not to like?

Our favourite moustachioed Belgian, on a mug

I'll leave you with a few random snaps and captions because I'm awful at structuring these photo-heavy posts. I've already done my next travel illustration, which you may or may not have already seen. Expect a post on that very soon.

Godshuizen (Almshouses)

De Halve Maan (Half Moon) Brewery is the only active family brewery left in the centre of Bruges
't Poatersgat (Monks Hole) - a cool cellar bar with great trapist beers and a kooky 80s playlist

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Nutcrackers

Today I would like to introduce to you the three nutcracker brothers, Roman, Yushkin, and Nikolai. It's a picture heavy post, but I feel they don't really need many words. I attempted a digital version of these guys last Christmas, but I wasn't happy with it so never printed it. This time around however, I am really very pleased that I took the time to develop them. They perhaps lack a little colour, but I'm all for minimalism. Roman (above) is named for my late grandfather, and Yushkin (below) is named for the watchmaker in a loved childhood story.

You can buy the cards individually from my Etsy shop, but these little guys like to stick together, so if you have a heart(and want to save a few pennies), buy the 3 pack, which includes one each of the brothers and accompanying envelopes. (links below)

A small space issue in our humble abode. No eating at the dinner table for a wee or so.

// Etsy Shop
All Three

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Across the Seine - Watercolour

Just a quick post to show you what I've been working on this week. I haven't painted properly since college (about 7 years), and I can never seem to get the effect I want with paint. I'm really hoping that with a bit more practice and experimentation I can pick up a more narrative style again, 'cause I'd love to illustrate books more than anything.

Anyway, I'm quite pleased with this. I sort of got the knack about half way through, so it's a little rough around the edges, but definitely good enough to share. I've been reminded that you really have to persevere with paint, because it can look completely shit to begin with, until you work into it and start adding details.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Japanese Stab Binding


On Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend and I took a walk down to the Canal Basin to attend a bookbinding workshop, taught by our friend Rosie as part of the Japanese Cultural Festival. I did some slap-dash bookbinding back in my uni days, but Rosie, an art student herself, is crazy about it and could definitely teach me a thing or ten.

The workshop was only an hour long, so Rosie chose to demonstrate a technique that requires little equipment or time, but is incredibly useful. She explained to us that she uses this method a lot, including for making her own sketchbooks. The books can be taken apart when full, and edited to her liking before being easily sewn back together. It is also great for mending old books that are falling apart. In fact, the most difficult part of this technique, we found, is threading your needle!

Rosie started the class by telling us a little bit about Japanese stab binding - 'Yotsume Toji', and its uses. She provided us with everything we needed, which were stacks of paper; lots of lovely decorative front and back papers; awls and hand drills for making the holes, and needles and coloured thread for sewing them together. The class was really relaxed, and Rosie was full of useful little tips such as the importance of paper grain direction, and the little shortcuts she's found for measuring the holes.

Being reunited with bookbinding has got me thinking about the possibilities it holds for turning my work into more than 2 dimensional prints, which I've already started to explore. I really love the overall feel that stab binding gives a book: there can be no doubt that it is hand made. I'm hoping Rosie has the time to show me more of her bookbinding, as there is no better way to learn or be inspired than by someone actually doing it there in front of you.

Rosie finished the class by giving us each a lovely little scroll of hand-written instructions. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any online presence that I can share with you at the minute, but perhaps I can persuade her to aid me in putting together some little tutorial blogs at some point. Otherwise, get out there and search the web for one, and have a go. It's an excellent art.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Across the Seine

A new travel drawing to share, working from my photographs from France. Paris itself has a pretty tight colour palette overall when it comes to architecture, with mainly sand and cream brickwork, and slate and blues for the roofs. That said, even though there is no pink or minty green in sight with this one, it is still lively. The blues in these photographs of my print are a little more vivid than life, but I have a terrible habit of using turquoise shades in my work that are difficult to replicate in print, and then again in photography. 

As pleased as I am with this illustration overall, I must admit that I did intend to hand paint it. I chickened out and used my usual digital method, but I still hope to paint the original linework. I want to do it in full colour, sky and all, to explore a more narrative style. Wish me luck, because I am awful and destructive with paints.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Shrink Plastic Brooches

I'm totally on this blogging thing at the moment, aren't I?

Today I come bearing news about something a little different for me: brooches. I discovered shrink plastic earlier in the year, and since I was dying to expand my work into more than just art prints, it seemed like an easy, fun thing to try. Fast forward half a year, I'm still piddling around, deciding what should actually be on the things. I should probably have been more conscientious and designed a set that tied in with one another, but instead I just did the things I fancied drawing at the time. 

If you didn't know already, and I can't see why you should, I love storks. I quite like most long-legged birds really. They're so graceful and majestic in flight (the ones that can fly, at least), and really awkward and gangling on their feet. I love 'um. So that explains that. I'm probably going to pick up more on the long-legged avifauna in the coming months, so if you like them too, watch this space.

Next up, is the typewriter. I was inspired to do this one by a lady I was at uni with. I drew many a type-writer when working on my final major project (if you've ever seen my H.G.Wells prints, you'll understand why), and I do love a nice bit of retro. The hot air balloon with the ship is just a continuation of my most recent work, although I messed up varnishing it, hence the orange ran all over the shop. I don't know why but they all seem to sit nicely together when I look at them, even though they're nothing to do with one another. I suppose it's the orange running through them, but perhaps it's also that they're very me, and my style, which is a nice feeling.

I am selling these on a made-to-order basis. It makes more sense this way, seeing as they're individually hand-drawn, and I can never know how many of each I'm going to sell. For now, only the stork and the typewriter are available until I redo the hot air balloon, but keep your eye out on twitter or send me a message if you're interested in that one.

For now, do hop on over to my Etsy shop and have a look. Tell your friends!

Yours truly - I went to a DJ event that some friends put on, and thought my collar incomplete without the little fella