Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Here I am, coming to my own blog everyday to check the links on the right hand side to other peoples' blogs, and yet not realising I need to update my own.

The rockets and other space-related doodles in the post below were ideas for my new promo postcard. The ones here are extensions of those, leading on to the final idea at the bottom here which I finished on Monday and got sent off to lovely Vistaprint the same day. Get me all organised, like. Hopefully they will be with me by next weekend, so I can spend a few lazy hours inside my shady lounge and not outside in the blistering sun, writing out the addresses ready to send.

I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the finished result. I think I'll do one or two more cards for a later mailout, maybe with an octopussy/sea theme...

There's a lot of talk about the "right time" to send out a mailout, but the simple truth is you never know. Many people say summer isn't a good time as Art Directors are away from their desks, but there's always someone checking the post. An entire publishing house doesn't shut down just because one AD has gone to Barcelona for a long weekend. Besides, the person who does see your card may like it better than the one it was intended for. As with everything in publishing - or, indeed, any profession whatsoever - if you don't try you'll never know.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Haulage Part II

Isn't it great when the postman brings you all sorts of nice things?

First of all, new rentals from LoveFilm to keep me entertained in the evenings, new DPNs from Angelyarns (always excellent, speedy service) and a fabulous King Cole sample card that the lovely people at Texere Yarns sent me free of charge. They are great.

Then three prints I ordered a couple of weeks ago using funds from my PayPal account after selling off four of my eight sets of Monopoly on ebay:

Yes, that red really is that red! They are by Sasha Barr of The New Year. I saw some of her work two years ago at the Sub Screen Sonic poster exhibition in Brighton, and, coming across the catalogue for it again recently, looked up her website and couldn't help spending a few pennies on some her work. I'm going to get some frames for them and then add them to my rapidly-growing screenprint collection. Fab.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Today I've been experimenting. I'm not entirely sure what I've discovered, or how useful it's going to be, but I've had fun, anyway.

Last year I started on a calendar project that had to be done in two sections: the cover and one page before Christmas, and the remaining 11 pages after Christmas. I started off painting it all rather traditionally, but then started on the Cornish project in the middle, and discovered a whole new way of drawing out my characters, ie with a dip-pen. Of course, I then cursed the way I had started drawing out the calendar project, but, having already done the first part, had to continue in that same style for the rest of it.

So, what I suppose I am doing here is trying to come up with a way of drawing my characters with the dip-pen like in the Cornish project, and then finding an interesting way of putting together an image that isn't necessarily all painted by hand.

(The singular image at the top didn't come up in the mosaic, for some reason. It should be bottom left. Tsk.)

In the top left image is the original character of Joe I painted last year, and the rest are today's experiments with line, colour and texture. I put everything together in PhotoShop, with scanned textures and the watercolour sections.

I'm REALLY liking the orange versions. Reminds me of 60s kids' illustrations. Maybe these could be good as screenprints? Particularly with the use of only two colours.

So, I think my next step is to take this approach and try a whole illustration with it. My portfolio is full of characters on white backgrounds, so I definitely need to come up with a way of making an interesting background that isn't just white! Maybe if the characters are drawn in the fairly heavy ink, then the background could be outline-less?



I went to the lovely Steph's house on Sunday, and, due to her pre-move de-clutter, went away with this amazing haul o'knitting:

The old tin (I love tins, especially old ones) contains an assortment of buttons (I LOVE buttons). Steph found them high up on an almost unreachable shelf in the first flat she ever lived in by herself, and now she has passed them on to me. I will love them like they were my very own.

She also tagged me, like, a million years ago (well, back in May, anyway) to write a Five Things About Me thing, which I must get round to doing. Apologies for my general lateness.

Monday, 14 July 2008

A new religion that'll bring you to your knees ...

... Red Velvet, if you please.

In the past week curtains have been made, walls have been painted, and lots of cake has been consumed.

It's quite surprising, really, as I had my usual Post-Doctor-Who-Season-Finale
-Funk last Sunday (*sigh*, I love that man), but it seemed to have disappeared by Monday morning just in time for me to take a trip to Ikea and spend WAY too much. Mucho moolah might have been parted with, but it has made my gaff a nicer, more comfy place to be. (That's my justification and I'm sticking to it.)

Not only have I been banging away on the old sewing machine, but on Saturday New Boyfriend and I made Red Velvet cupcakes. Now, the whole concept of RV cake is a fairly new one to me. I think I only came across it in Jan/Feb this year, and was immediately taken with the idea. Gawd bless those crazy Americans. So, much trawling of recipes later (I love the internet) I came across a couple that sounded easy enough (if a bit scary on the amount of food colouring involved) and whipped up a (humungous) batch.

Here is the recipe I used, which is a bit of a mix between two different ones I found:

250g plain flour
2 tblsp cocoa (Green and Blacks all the way, baby)
100g softened butter
300g caster sugar
2 large eggs
250ml buttermilk (or, plain milk with a teaspoon of vinegar added and left to stand for 10 minutes)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 whole bottle of red food colouring (about 80ml)

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time, beating well in between; sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a large bowl; whisk milk, vinegar, vanilla and colouring together in another bowl, add wet ingredients to dry in stages, beating well in between; divide into cupcakes papers (don't over fill, they rise A LOT) and bake at 180c/350f for about 20 mins. Et voila, beautiful dark, red cake. Makes about 30 small cupcakes.

Leave to cool, then ice with:

100g softened cream cheese
100g softened butter
600g (eek!) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

All creamed together well. You can add more or less icing sugar according to taste. Top with a cherry, Minstrel or whatever you fancy.

We didn't add the whole bottle of food colouring, but I think I will next time. Even though the batter is SCARILY red, like someone has been murdered in your best china bowl, because of the lovely, dark Green and Blacks cocoa, they come out lushiously dark. I'd also try baking them in larger cake cases, more on the muffin-sized side of things.

But, most importantly, they are DELISH.