Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Catching up 2: Florence & The Machine Illustration - the process

I always really like the chance to see how someone else's illustration develops through to the final piece, so with that in mind I thought I'd put up some of the prep work for my Florence and the Machine / Secret 7" illustration of her single   'Only If For A Night'  - it got through the selection process to the London exhibition on Record Store Day ... the final choices were made by Florence and the band, which is quite a thrilling thought! 

When I'm illustrating a song (or poetry) I find it helps to write out the lyrics, or certain lines that seem to have potential. I deliberately write quite slowly so that images and ideas can form and reform in my mind. I have to say that even after doing this, I was still a little too confused about what was happening. Even the title sent my brain into knots:

Ideas of a meeting between a powerful female being with another vulnerable one, or other selves, were forming. Something with symmetry but also Chagall-like maybe:

By chance some Mucha paintings that I had been thinking of for something else  ages before fell out of my sketchbook at just the right time; I sketched up and adapted a couple of ideas that might suit the Florence lyrics:

Ready to start the 'real' thing, I painted as far as this, using Inktense crayons and metallic acrylic paint:

There was an effect that I really wanted to achieve in the left hand figures dress ... photographer Paulina Surys had taken the photograph below for Inbar Spector's Autumn 2011 collection and it captivated me; I think because it had something of the reflections in old smoky mirrors, with those hints of the extra dimensions that are present in everything:

The next stages were all done digitally - I found a background from a scrap of experimentation I had done a couple of years ago (in fact trying to do monotypes, with little success, but I liked this bit). I scanned it and made it the background:

Then I 'pulled in' the Florence figures. Everything else was added digitally, but still painstakingly, especially as I was (am) still such a learner when it comes to Photoshop. This is the final illustration:

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Catching up 1: Mina Tindle for Amelia's Magazine

I have neglected this blog for the last few months - well not exactly neglected, as work and life have just been rather full - but way back in May I did this illustration of the delightful French songstress Mina Tindle, for an Amelia's Magazine interview ahead of the release of Mina's folk pop album Taranta at the end of the month.

This image was to illustrate the track 'To Carry Many Small Things'. There is something rather enchanting - both quirky and joyous - about her voice and manner, as can be seen the accompanying video:

You can read the complete interview in Amelia's Magazine here.

And the album 'Taranta' is reviewed here (from very good blog Nulla dies sine linea /

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

'Modern Dandy': Illustration for Magazine Cover

This is an illustration that I did a couple of weeks ago - it's for the cover of a magazine (hence the space at the top for the title) about the phenomenon of the 'modern dandy' look in men's fashion, and is especially focusing on this in the London district of Haggerston.  

Monday, 11 June 2012

Amelia and baby Lucian

A pencil portrait that I did last month of Amelia Gregory and her new baby boy Lucian.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

RIP Donna Summer: Amelia's Magazine Tribute Illustration

Illustration for Matt Bramford's wonderful tribute to Donna Summer in Amelia's Magazine - choc-a-bloc with gorgeousness in words, music and sumptuous illustrations.

This is my initial pencil sketch (with sunshine!):

I had a bit of a dilemma once I scanned it and cropped it to an oval .. my usual dilemma, which is the use of digital effects. So these were the 4 options that I narrowed it down to:
1. the original with the fur stole coloured in



In the end I chose the last one, which has a 'grain' effect added. It is quite pleasing in itself, but I suppose my doubts are that it could just be a doctored photo; and the original drawing is masked, if not obliterated.

My favourite bit is the pink/brown texture at the bottom!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Cate Le Bon Illustration for Amelia's Magazine

At the end of last month, coinciding with the release of her new album CYRK (Polish for 'circus'), Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon launched her sell-out UK tour at London's Village Underground. Richard Pearmain was there and wrote this lovely review for Amelia's Magazine. 

Looking and listening, in preparation for an illustration to accompany the review, I too was beguiled by Cate's unique music and also her videos, past and more recent. Some are very surreal, others quite domestic and homely, but all with a sense of the resonances of nature, especially animals; they also reflect a deeper, dark (Cate's word) take on our daily doings.

For my illustration I pulled together 3 sources that I found very powerful visually. Firstly, I really liked the CYRK album's artwork, though it wasn't until the end of the process that I saw a way to include an element of it :

Secondly, the video for one of the tracks - Fold the Cloth - was compelling, not least in its use of red within an otherwise quite sepia colour range. 

It features Cate and her little niece and had a magical, childlike quality. There were several frames in which the 2 figures are on a sand dune, silhouetted against the setting sun and sky:

Meanwhile the mystical, shadowy work of Barcelona illustrator Kodomos had really appealed to me, especially his work on Alice in Wonderland (perhaps also because that's my daughter's name) and this beautiful illustration in particular:

I thought I would have a try at emulating Kodomos' style and use of light and shade, which meant a happy afternoon of building up layers in pencil. I was pleased with the likeness of the tree and the way the Cate Le Bon image lent itself to the style. But in retrospect I wish I had taken some extra time to create my own tree. Here is my half-finished pencil drawing - the paper was quite textured, meant for soft pastels:

Once it was completed, including the moon (echoing the CYRK cover) and a semicircle of light, I scanned the drawing and then digitally added some soft red in certain places.

One lovely thing was that when Kodomos saw the illustration, and his tree, a dialogue was started - he is an incredibly warm, kind and generous artist.

Also, I was more than a little thrilled that when Cate Le Bon read Richard's review and saw the illustration she asked if she could have a copy : )

To finish, some reviews of Cate's music:

“like a Valley-born Nico locked in the cupboard with The Fall” **** Q 

“Cate Le Bon follows her own path” **** MOJO

“her lyrical style recalls the whimsical, pastoral fantasy of Syd Barrett and her music jumps 
  everywhere, from garage rock to harmony pop to electronic….with it’s own sense of logic.” 
  **** The Times
“Le Bon is someone whose take on songwriting is so sideways, it would be completely impossible 
  for anyone else to replicate it” Guardian Guide

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bauhaus: Illustration for Amelia's Magazine

London's Barbican's current exhibition is 'Bauhaus: Art as Life' and Matt Bramford has written this magnificent review for Amelia's Magazine. 

 Like many, I find the Bauhaus style, lines, patterns, colours, typography, scope and ethic very appealing, and so was pleased to have the chance to submit an illustration for the article. However, my Bauhaus 'comfort zone' was soon to be challenged when my brief turned out to be furniture, chairs in fact.

At college we had a typography project - for better or worse I embarked on 'An A to Z of Art Movements' (which kept me out of trouble for a few weeks) ... so we had 'A for Aboriginal' (which, for example, involved the letter 'A' done in many earth toned dots -  I'll spare you the finished 'piece').

So 'B'? Bauhaus was an easy decision and this was my B - making use of the typographic style and colour combinations (including gold) that I love:

For Matt's article I first of all used this image x 4 to create a background - really I was avoiding the chair part of the equation:

Separately I worked on the chair image, simplifying it even further and using the same red and black (and a little gold) of my background.
The chair - as a double, symmetrical image - was added in to occupy the space in the middle:

I really hope that I can visit this exhibition - it's on until 12 August.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Nettle Soup

I love making nettle soup - as much for the incredible green of it as for the tastiness to come.

It begins with some stingproof gloves (long enough to cover your wrists too) and a large carrier bag - you need MASSES of nettles as they reduce as much as spinach...a carrier bagful will make enough soup for 4-5 people. Only pick the tender, light green growing shoots or tips ... the older leaves and stalks will be too tough and stringy. If you start picking early enough in the season, the nettles will produce successive crops for a few weeks.

Keeping gloves on, swish the nettle tips around in a large bowl of cold water then tip into a colander (or two) and rinse again under the tap. Leave to drain.

The recipe I use is from 'The Week' a couple of years ago:

Whilst the nettle tips are draining, soften 1 or 2 chopped onions in butter in a large pan, then add some garlic, diced potato (one or two) and 2 pints of chicken stock. Simmer till potatoes are soft.

Then add the nettles - you'll think you have far too many but within moments they reduce down. Simmer for 5 to 10 mins more (until nettles are tender - by now they will have no stingability!), then season.

Puree the soup (and marvel at the colour), return to pan and stir in some cream.

Serve with a swirl of cream or creme fraiche, and some chopped chives.

Beautiful, tasty AND good for you - purifies the blood and helps with rheumatism and insomnia.
PS. you can also add raw nettle tips to quiches and omelettes, just like spinach.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Another Reiss Illustration

The Reiss dress 'Kana', in the 'nude' colourway - such a beautiful dress!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Reiss Illustrations

Over the weekend I did a couple of Reiss illustrations, one of which was only my 2nd time of drawing men's fashion. I hope he doesn't look too effeminate!

As happens, I started drawing at a scale where the page wasn't going to be long enough so had to add on a little extension then try to mask the join. A bit blotchy but I can live with the 'fresco' look.

A lot of the drawing has got lost under the very dark blue-black of the jeans .. but that is probably more accurate in terms of the actual fashion item.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Abstract Landscapes: a bit of pottering and playing

I just don't seem to have enough time for painting and drawing at the moment (is there ever?), so decided to use what moments did arise over the weekend to just 'play' and explore without any predetermined outcome - it is actually so lovely to allow oneself to do this now and again.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

EDIT: The Illustrated Word .. EDIT Artist #9 Gilly Rochester

Self Portrait: pen and ink + wash

Earlier this week there was a little interview with me on the EDIT Collective blog ... questions and kind intro by Faye West:

EDIT: The Illustrated Word: EDIT ARTIST #9 GILLY ROCHESTER: Gilly contrasts expressive, fluid outlines and flourishes of colour against textured and patterned backgrounds giving the eye a visual feas...

Friday, 9 March 2012

Elisa Palomino Illustrations for Akeela Bhattay & Hels Martin at Lionheart Magazine

Two illustrations from the stunning Autumn Winter 2012 collection of Elisa Palomino - the intensity and sumptuousness of this catwalk show is utterly gorgeous ... I love the colours, hair, makeup and styling of the models too:

You can read Akeela's splendid review HERE in the Lionheart Magazine blog. Have you seen Hels Martin's new and wonderful Lionheart Magazine? << the fabulous issue #1 now available to buy via the link.