July 2020 Projects

Chatty, Drawing, pen, watercolour

I thought, “oh I really must post before July ends” only to see a Hello August! post on my Instagram feed.

12 Days of Beardies: Day 1

Drawing, pen

I haven’t posted anything this month because I’ve been SO CLOSE to finishing a big project.

But I’m looking at it and, I know, I won’t get it finished this weekend.

So instead here’s the first drawing in a series I’m going to be working on.

day 1

Bearded Collie Engagement Party Invite

Drawing, Painting, pen, Step-by-Step

I mentioned before that I’m recently engaged. My partner (fiance? woah) and I are really keen to not get overwhelmed with wedding prep or saving every penny before we’ve properly celebrated with friends and family. We therefore decided, let’s have a party!

I’ve also mentioned that we have a family friend who does a lot of work with Bearded Collie charities. We wanted to invite her but also wanted to make it a bit special, so here’s a quick little invite.

I found a picture on Pinterest to use as a reference and did a quick sketch.


Once I had a sketch I used gouache to build up some colour in the right shape. Between layers I needed to wait for it to dry. There’s always a risk when relying on colour bleeding but, other than the hat, I think it worked out ok. I know I got a bit impatient before introducing the darkest colours so it’s my own fault really.



Once I had the basic shapes put in I went back in with some smaller brush strokes.

And finally I went in with some pens to add teeny details. I’m very aware that that is definitely my safety zone, but I’m kinda glad that I’ve got a go-to option that means I know I can quickly produce some art, however twee.

I think it’s tempting to feel like art always has to be highly thoughtful, detailed and showcasing your skills, but sometimes it’s fun to just do it for the love of doing it and sharing something fun.

Hope you’re all well!

National Portrait Gallery

Chatty, Drawing

Every year I tell myself that I’m going to continue to post regularly after Inktober while I’ve got the momentum and every year I don’t and November is one of the quietest blog-months. Post-Inktober recovery combined with moving AND starting work in a new branch has meant that the month has been full-on. But here is am, 3rd December and I’ve actually been doing quite a lot of art! My new work/life schedule means I usually have a bit of time in the morning that I can devote to painting, drawing and creating so fingers crossed I can keep a few projects on the go. There are a few things I could post but I thought I’d start with today’s work.

I’ve spent the day in central London as I’ve had some time in lieu and so did my partner, so we could have a nice Covent Garden breakfast. Then I strolled in the rain across to the National Portrait Gallery. I’m thinking about working on portraits/people again soon. I took a break from it last year to focus on painting skills a bit more but maybe it’s time to combine both. I was looking for something that drew me in and saw this painting:

It’s a portrait of Ellen Terry and known as Choosing by George Frederic Watts. Apparently he went on to marry her despite being 40 years her senior. I loved the colour, composition and other-worldlyness. It reminds me of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.

I also saw this painting of Doris Lessing by Peonard William McComb. I really want to try coloured pencil over oil pastels at some point, but I only had the pencils with me, so I thought I’d try being a but more bold with colours and line marks.

I tried layering the colours and being deliberate with mark-making to ensure I was confident with proportions but also could start adopting a little bit more of a graphic style in line with the brighter colours.

I might finish the hair one day but I quite like the negative space. I think there’s some potential to take some things forward, but mostly it was just a lovely way to spend the day.

Looking forward to catching up with everyone’s posts over the last month tomorrow!



Art Nouveau Frame #2 and Completed on a Flat!

Chatty, Drawing, Ink, Painting, pen, Step-by-Step, watercolour

SITE UPDATE: I’ve sorted through some tag categories and added a page explaining why I love step-by-step posts. Have a look!

Hello all,

I have exciting news – my boyfriend and I have completed on a flat! We have keys and everything!


I feel like such a grown up. I won’t be able to move in any time soon (work commitments) but that means I’ve got plenty of time to make it homely and beautiful.

We’ve set up a mortgage with Nationwide who sent us a care package! It had all the necessities you need, popcorn, tea, kitchen towels. Such a lovely thing to have first thing. My friend came to see the flat and also got us our first house warming gift, a lovely succulent (that means it won’t need a lot of watering so perfect for us).


Here’s a photo of the placement of the ceremonial slippers, a moving moment for all. It basically turned into the first scene of Totoro where we were opening doors and enjoying just being in the new space.

We’ve been really fortunate to find a flat in an amazing location in London and it is SO exciting to be moving back. The compromise is, of course, the flat in tiny. It’s basically a glorified studio, but we love it. Part of the fun is making the space homely and beautiful, which is of course the thing that I’m most excited about. I therefore wanted to create a lovely bit of art that would work in the bedroom and really make it feel like ours. This post is all about the planning and process that goes behind making a final piece.

Last month I made this little sketch. I’ve worked on it a little more and this was the final result. I really enjoyed making it and decided it’d be a good starting point for a larger piece.


When I think of Art Nouveau the first thing that comes to mind is Mucha. Below are some photos that had elements of what I was looking for, either in their colour scheme, detail, style etc. I’ll need to refer back to them lots when it comes to putting it all together. If you click the image it’ll take you to the Pinterest page where I found them.

The bedroom is at the top of the mezzanine so the ceiling is quite low. We also want to have some kind of screen for when we want a bit more privacy. As such, we want to have a somewhat Japan-inspired interior design (think low beds, printed curtains separating the wardrobe space etc.) A few months ago I went to Brighton and picked up this book from a second hand book shop which was perfect inspiration.

IMG_20180808_151819.jpgJapanese Prints, 300 years of albums and books, Jack Hiller and Lawrence Smith, 1980

It has some lovely prints, and this is my favourite. I did a quick sketch and used my favourite elements as inspiration for the different sketches below.

Nishikawa Sukenobu, 1671-1750, Chinsoku Hinagata Miyako Fuzoku

Planning/Sketching Ideas

Since the layout of the frames in my final piece is slightly different from the original sketch I didn’t want the tree to be right in the middle of the piece. The challenge is to have something interesting going on in each part of the frame while still ensuring there’s a cohesive composition overall. Obviously with these mini-sketches there won’t be as much detail added, but the priority for a piece like this is definitely balancing the different elements.

With that in mind, I started with the below sketch, and the made changes as I went along. I tried to refer back to my reference photos as much as possible. You can see where, at times, the different elements didn’t work together. I think in the second composition, for example, the tree looks like an afterthought.

The sketches are simple, first draw out the frames to match the final piece layout, lightly draw in some shapes/features, add pen around the frame, rub out drawing in the negative space.





I went through the same process with the colour scheme to work out which combination I was most pleased with. Confusingly, I started with the right and tweaked each time to the left.

I knew I wanted the colour scheme to be, mostly, neutral but warm. Our bedroom is going to be blush pinkish/goldish with accents of light blue so that it’s cosy and feels like a distinct space. Since the flat is so teeny tiny it’ll be important to have really comfortable and relaxing environment. I’m hoping it’ll feel a little luxurious when it’s got everything in place.

When I’d made up my mind I tried to put it together for the final piece.


Main Piece Layout




Upon reflection, I think I’ll need to change/consider some of the following:

  • I’m going to swap the teal for a lighter blue. We’re having teal tiles downstairs so thought it would be a nice nod to the rest of the flat. I think we’re going to keep things light and breezy with nothing too bold. (Having said that, I usually can’t help myself so there might end up being a few teal leaves in there.)
  • The tree to the right needs to be slightly bigger and definitely partly blocked by the frame, like in the original frame.
  • The arch around the left side and up to the top should be nice and detailed – definitely worth taking the time with it.
  • I still haven’t quite figured out how to create the river in a style that I like and works with the overall piece. I think I’ll need to do a few more sketches for that.

I’ll post the final piece when it’s finished – maybe even framed in the flat!

I’m going to catch up on everyone’s posts with a cup of tea.


Art Nouveau Frame

Drawing, Ink

Hi all,

I had every intention of doing the July Watercolour challenge, but alas I haven’t made the time. Life and work are quite full on at the moment. I know that’s not a compelling excuse, but sometimes it’s the most honest one. We’ve got a provisional completion date on the flat so there’s a lot of admin tasks that need doing. Keep all fingers and toes crossed for us!

I wanted to make sure I posted something this month, so here’s the start of a little project. Eventually I’d like to paint a larger version but planning it every so often is easier.

The weather has been beautiful recently, but it has meant VERY warm nights. Combine that with work stress and it’s meant I haven’t been sleeping all that well. Rather than sitting and wondering how many hours it’s been, I decided to start doing a bit of art. It felt good to be doing something totally unrelated to anything else and purely for myself.

When I went to Prague I made some simple sketches of the composition in Mucha Art Nouveau posters. From there I used some reference photos and this inktober sketch to put together a nature scene:

Eventually I’ll add more, like some floral design or detail to the frames, but for now if I post on here I’m more likely to follow it up later.

That’s all for now. As always, I’ll try to catch up with everyone else’s posts soon.


This is why you should use an easel

Chatty, Drawing

I was really unsure about whether to post this.

I was on a plane last week, and to pass the time I decided to do a little drawing practice.

I know that ideally you would draw from observation, but the back of the chair in front wasn’t all that interesting.

Instead, I decided to sketch the model from this perfume ad in the back of the airline magazine:

Glossy magazine photos aren’t the best if you’re looking to get accurate insight into the form of the human face or body – Photoshop editing doesn’t really lend itself to that. But since there wasn’t much else that I could comfortably use, we went with this pretty lady.

Now, I’m not the best at drawing. I tend to smudge as I go with my left hand, and I get a little bored of it after a while. But I know that I can produce better than this.

I was relatively happy with it as I was doing it. But when I lifted it up at the end, I realsied that the table tray I’d been resting on had completely skewed my perspective. The result is a slightly mangled fish eye effect.

Like I said above, I wasn’t going to post this. But when I thought about it, the whole point of starting this blog was to have a place to record my progress, and my mistakes. That way I (and anyone else) can learn from them.

The plane journey was to Granada in Spain to go and see my family. I’ve got a painting I’ve been working on out there and I was really excited to get stuck in and update you on here. It’s a Chico Montilla inspired painting of the Alhambra Palace. Unfortunately, over my brief stay I got heat stroke (heights of 47°C!) which knocked me out for half the time.

Next time I’m out there hopefully I’ll have made so much progress  that I can totally transform it.

I have a few other things I’ve been working on to update you on, so they’ll be coming soon too.

Hope you’re all enjoying your Monday!

Lack of motivation

Chatty, Drawing

I’ve been finding recently that I don’t have the same patience/attention span for art.
When I was younger I could work on something for HOURS and for days on end. I think a big difference is that as an adult there are always other things I feel I need to be getting done. I know the advice is “do what makes you happy, make time for it” etc. but I’m still working on convincing myself it is important to me. (By this I mean I know it’s important to me, but with work, and seeing my partner and making time for friends, it’s easy to think it’s not a priority.)

I’m working on finding a balance still. That is why I started posting on here after all. While I figure it all out here are some unfinished posts. I hate posting anything that I’m not sure I’ll finish, but to do so is definitely in keeping with the spirit of this blog.

And as a final attempt to remotivate mysrlf – here are those finished art deco gals:



Hello lovebugs!

I was watching an episode of Death in Paradise and wanted to get a bit of drawing practise as I did. 

Here’s the lamp that I was copying:

And here’s the start of my drawing (about 40 mins?)

I’ve started watching The Big Painting Challenge – what motivational TV! I love that the competitors actually have a mentor, and I feel like I’m learning too.

I’m hoping to start a bigger painting soon, so I’ll definitely record my progress with that.

Keep practising, folks!

Art Deco Dolls


For Christmas my brother got me a book on graphic and illustration from the art deco era. I wanted to work on proportion and scale, and generally speeding up a little bit.

In general I think I’m getting better at making the initial sketch part more accurate and speedy. It’s still taking me a very long time in general though. Is that something other people find when using pencils too?

Sorry for the bad picture quality. I feel like I should take more care with the overall image quality and aesthetic of these posts, but I really wanted to make sure it was quick and easy to post, otherwise I just don’t trust myself to update.

I’ll post when I’ve worked on the picture a little more.