Josh and Bike #4

Acrylic, Painting, Step-by-Step

Guess who left their keys at work? That would indeed be me.

I have a half day, I’m due to finish early, and yet here I am sitting in a Pret waiting to meet my friend and praying that my partner will check his phone so that I can collect keys from him. The thing that annoys me most is feeling like I’m wasting my time. But there’s nothing I can do, so I’m trying to be “in the moment” and enjoy people watching.

I recently FINALLY finished this piece that I’ve been working on for ages. Josh was a rescue dog but the lovely man who rescued him could no longer look after him due to health reasons. He still visits Josh from time to time, which is always lovely. This is for that man as a Christmas present.

The main thing I was working on was detail in the background and just knowing when to leave it. I overworked the dog a bit and I think he began to lose his expression. There’s more I feel like I could add but I think I’d be going overboard at this stage.

You can see the previous post about this piece here.

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.