A Glazed Raspberry Doughnut

Glazed raspberry smI’ve been thinking lately of trying to make something more commercial with my illustration work. Something saleable, something Etsy-able.

Some people advocate the do-it-yourself approach; it is, after all, perfectly possible to set up a Paypal button on this blog and sell things directly through this space.

But sites like Etsy offer, just like a real marketplace, a passing trade. Or at least customers who are making a search.

The problems I come up against are;

What to sell, what to sell and what to sell

What to sell

I’m leaning towards gift cards and notebooks, I think.

I particularly enjoy drawing food and drink, so it seems an obvious choice to focus on those areas for card designs, certainly initially. I’ve had a couple of friends make suggestions about subjects that they would like illustrated in my style. And a couple of friends have suggested that I illustrate recipes for people, which is an interesting idea.

It would be lovely to have the time and space to experiment.

Time – Hey, I’m just trying to make way in the world. I’ve got bills too y’know. And if it means I have to spend some time in my other life, making a few pounds here and there, then so be it. But, it sure would be nice to devote time to sales.

Space – My studio isn’t really that big (in fact some might describe it as a little office in the loft-space of a semi-detached house on the outskirts of a fairly large Northern town in Yorkshire … because it is!)

In his book “Steal Like an Artist”, Austin Kleon writes about being creative with limitations, using those limitations to your advantage. In the equally good book by Hugh Macleod, “Ignore Everybody”, Hugh reminds us that [No.23] nobody else cares about your passions, so you have to be the one to drive it forward. But reminds us [No.13] that the difficulties in creating will all be worth it in the end.

Hence the glazed, raspberry doughnut illustration. Is this the way I should go with cards and notebooks for merchandise?

I actually quite like the half-eaten-ness of the doughnut – it sure looks tempting.

(Pssst … in reality, the reason this doughnut was half-eaten was that nobody at the party actually liked it! It looks like a couple of bites have been taken out of it, when in fact, it was lots of little bites. Nobody like the sickly, raspberry frosting! My illustration is what was left, after everyone had had enough of it!)

Do-It-Yourself Tomato Ketchup / Catsup

Why make your own ketchup, when you can buy it everywhere?

Because this recipe is sugar free!

Now, don’t go thinking that it loses any flavour because of that. This sugar-free ketchup is just as delicious as the regular sugar-full versions that we buy in the shops. But you can eat this safe in the knowledge that your not taking on board too much sugar.

I have to admit, I’m not a great ketchup fan! But, I do love mixing up different sauces; which ketchup is very useful to use as a base to add other ingredients to.Ketchup Recipe sm

“The Sketchnote Handbook” by Mike Ronde

Journaling - The Sketchnote Handbook smA journalling book in all but name!

I bought Mike Rohde’s book  initially because I like the idea of making practical, illustrative notes in meetings. Once I sat and started to pour over Mike’s book, however, the more I realised that, essentially, this book is a guide to speedy .

Okay, it’s not exactly journalling. Mike’s sketch note idea is one of making very visual, and visually engaging, notes during meetings. Notes which can include character drawings, diagrams, bubble and 3D writing – radial paths and linear paths, modular like a comic strip or explosions of ideas like a spider-diagram. The book covers a wide range of ideas and many, many examples throughout of ways to make note-taking and enjoyable and rewarding experience.

For the casual note-taker this might seem like a radical change in note-taking direction.

To the sketcher and journal writer; I would say that this book offers a great many ideas for how your sketchbook or journal can be brought to further life through note-taking.

Untitled-11. What are sketchnotes? – In which Mike explains his frustration with traditional linear note-taking and some examples are given off sketchnotes ion practice.

2. Why sketchnote? – In which it is explained how one becomes totally focussed when creating visual notes (But us sketchers knew this already)

3. Listen up! – In which the secret keys to listening are revealed


Untitled-1m4. The sketchnoting process – In which we discover Mike’s seven steps in a sketch noting process.

5. Types of sketch notes – In which we are shown different patterns of layout for sketchnotes.

6. Sketchnoting approaches, hierarchy, and personalisation – In which we find out different ways to sketchnote, some ideas about structure and how to make it personal to you.

7. Sketch noting skills and techniques – In which we are shown ways to letter, ways to frame and a variety of sketching tips to quickly capture figures and objects.

205 pages


Yummy – A Traditional Sunday Roast

EatLocal feb - Chicken smCelebrated chef Heston Blumenthal makes a few suggestions for cooking a chicken for that perfect Sunday roast;

1 – Brining

Soak the chicken in an 8% salt solution – so the flesh will hold on to more moisture.

2 – Rinsing

Immerse the chicken in clean water for about 2 hours. Changing the water every 15 minutes.

3 – Blanching and Icing

Boiling for 20 seconds. Plunging into iced water


4 – Refrigerate overnight

Cover and place in fridge (To help the skin dry out and therefore crisp up better)

5 – Low temperature cooking

Cook the chicken in a 60° oven – allowing the thickest part of the chicken breast to reach 60° naturally. Then to maintain that for 15 minutes.

This will probably take about 6 hours.

– Whew! That’s some intensive chicken-work! Tried this a little while ago. It was the first time I’d tried to do a roast chicken – and I was pretty pleased with the results. Nice and tender and a crispy skin.

Of course, some might say that the best way to cook a roast chicken is to get someone else to do it!

or, you could just stick it in a slow cooker, if you can’t be bothered.

EatLocal feb - Slow cooker sm


Thai Style – a surprising meal

Cafe Thai - birthday meal smSo, going out to the Royal Ballet was one of my birthday gifts. When it was my actual birthday we went out as a family for a meal.

We’d heard good things about Thai Style, in Halifax. It had recently moved. To a rather less attractive looking location; Skirting the bottom of a block of flats, the sixties block building was perched over part of the rind road around the town. A far cry from its large picture window offering inviting views of the interior. Now, it looked decidedly unattractive.

This is one of my favourite things, though.

That moment, and it might not come suddenly, it might be a slow dawning.

That moment when either you, or your party, realise that you’ve stumbled across a rather special restaurant. (A quick glance at the menu tells us that the head chef has worked in several 5-star hotels in Thailand.

The food was fresh and authentic and utterly delicious.

Well worth our visit.

The only down-side to our meal; was Lucy desperately trying to prevent me from drawing my Kha Nom pudding (a baked custard pudding, a bit like creme brûlée ). As I tried to draw she was putting her hand or the menu in the way. Then, when I wanted to check the menu for the spelling of the dish, she sat on the menu. Sometimes, dining out with family can be wonderful.


“Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon

Creativity - Show your work smAustin’s first book, “Steal Like an Artist”, looked at the fundamental How of being creative.

This book looks at the How of sharing that creativity and, perhaps, maybe, getting discovered (Like that rare lump of gold that you know you are!)

Once again, this is a book about being brave. If you’ve read Austin’s first book then you’re braved your inner voice to work on your own creativity. Now you can give that nagging inner voice something new to nag you about, by displaying your creative work to the wider, world-wide, audience.

Austin doesn’t give specific examples of which platforms to use. But, then, that’s not the point of the book. Austin’s not concerned whether you use Twitter or tumbr, hashtags or Myspace (and, yes, I did choose Myspace on purpose!) He’s more concerned with getting the reader into the right frame of mind. You want to share your creativity, properly share your work to world, then you’re going to have to face that inner voice again, this time on the world’s stage.

Untitled-1Untitled-2So, Austin’s next set of Ten Things;

1. You don’t have to be a genius – Instead; tap into the creative group

2. Think process. Not product – Share your creative process with others

3. Share something small every day – Sending out a daily dispatch

4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities – Don’t hoard, share.

show-your-work-list-poster-760px-500x6655. Tell good stories – Don’t expect your work to speak for itself.

6. Teach what you know – Share your trade secrets.

7. Don’t turn into human spam – Don’t turn into a name to be traded up – you need to be involved in the communities you fly with

8. Learn to take a punch – Be ready to take the goo, the bad and the ugly comments once your work is out there in the world.

9. Sell out – Don’t starve to death because of pride or because of the Romantic notion of ‘the starving artist’

10. Stick around – There will be ups and downs – don’t desert your carnival stall, just because there are a few less customers at the moment.

(Now, I know some of my chapter explanations are a little bit wishy-washy, but I don’t want to give Austin’s whole book away. As I wrote about his previous book “Steal Like an Artist” Austin writes in such an easy going, matter of fact and downright down to Earth way that one cannot help but be bowled over by his logic)


The High Park – Burger No.4

High park no4 smSo, Lucy and I ordered our meals – I opted for this burger combination form the Build-Your-Own-Burger menu, while Lucy opted for a chicken burger.

As we waited we challenged each other to come up with meal combinations from the menu for different characters. Trying to find food that had a connection with a real or fictional character.

(At first we started just choosing things from the Build-Your_Own-Burger menu, but quickly started picking items from the whole menu)

For example:

What would Cinderella order of she came here? Pumpkin soup starter and Meatballs (meat-balls!) and Spaghetti for her main course.

What would Ariel, the Little Mermaid, choose? Crab Pate  starter and then Calamari (which she would eat with a fork!)




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