But not without reason, unfortunately.
About mid-November, last year, I noticed that I was having to take off my glasses to read. I went for an eye test and the optician suggested that a new pair of glasses wasn’t really necessary and that taking off my glasses to read would suffice.
The trouble with this diagnosis was that I’d noticed I was finding it difficult to sketch in my sketchbook too.
So, I went back to the opticians in mid-December.
It’s taken until now to find something suitable that seems to fit the bill.
My problem, of course, has been one of finding it difficult to see close enough to sketch.
A Little Back Story: I’ve worn glasses since I was about 11. Needing them for both near and far.
But my eyesight has got to the point where seeing things near with the same pair of glasses is no longer an option.
It’s taken many, many, many visits to the opticians to figure out what I needed; especially after a lot of misunderstanding from them about what I wanted. Initially they were supplying me with glasses I could wear day-to-day (some variation-focal lenses) but these were impossible to sketch close-to with.
The glasses that I finally picked up yesterday have stronger, mid-range lenses (so, no good for seeing distance with) But fine for sketching with (at long last)
This has been a truly, truly upsetting journey at times – but I feel I’m finally getting somewhere.
I produced a couple of little booklets about drawing food earlier in the year, for an online Sketching course I was on with Sketchbook Skool.
And from those I created a little deck of drawing cards, which are quite fun to shake things up a bit with your drawing.
(And then there’s my ‘naughty “50 Shades of Grape” tea towel)
But four things isn’t quite enough to lay on a craft fair table; so I’ve been having to work on creating a foundation of ‘things’ to sell.
I’ve added about 20 cards onto my Etsy site, so far.
And I’m in the process of making some invitation cards and a third little booklet (Which is a bit trickier than the previous two, as it is completely original illustrations throughout – so taking considerably longer to put together)
(I realise that it is grammatically impossible to ‘first start drawing again’, but my pre-2009 drawing wasn’t really, truly drawing for a purpose, it was aimless drawing, drawing for the sake of producing a picture of a pretty scene. I was going through the motions, but I didn’t know who I was)
flash forward to now –
and I still see myself as a drawer of things in front of me, but things have changed, and warped.
As a magazine illustrator – I find myself being sent photos to reproduce and, sometimes, I’m sent ideas which I have to somehow conjure into reality (Elvis driving a camper van is still one of my favourites!) which involve sourcing photographs and manipulating them into a drawing.
This was something I recently had to do with a series of mythological tales. One of my personal favourites being the Tale of Brave Gelert. A faithful hound who protected it’s masters’ infant child from a wicked wolf.
As a card designer – I find myself taking illustrations and tweaking and tuning them in Photoshop.
Adding in, necessary, details; such as the information that is found on the backs of cards.
And having to work out page designs.
It’s quite fascinating finding out what’s just around the next corner; what I’ll be asked to turn my (drawing) hand to next …
I didn’t realise that it’d be landing in the real world so soon! Here’s my little contribution; basically an introduction to me and my drawing.
One of my primary motivations for drawing my food was documentation; usually when we go out for a meal it is to either to simply to have a lovely experience or to even celebrate, with friends and family.
When I look back at a foodie drawing – it often transports me back to that time and place; I am able to recall sights and sounds and smells at that location and better remember the whole experience.
Of course, the real trick is to not just draw a picture of the food, but to try to capture a sense of freshness, of heat, of liquidity – all the elements which make a simple dish into something appealing and mouth-watering.
I’d like to think that sometimes I am able to capture that particular lightning in a bottle – to evoke in a foodie drawing those elements which can make the viewers mouth water and create a sense of desire.
The reason why I prefer drawing over photography (although I do photograph my foodie subjects for reference purposes) is that drawing adds personality to the subject.
Taking photographs and drawing both incorporate skill and personality; but whilst photography works via the medium of technology, drawing works via the simplest medium of something as basic as a pencil. The creative can be far more involved in the creation of their work therefore.
I always feel like a lot more of my personality has been used and is on show when I create a drawing.
The word ‘quirky’ is often used to describe my work.
This isn’t something which I have strived for, but rather is a mark of my personality upon the work.
Head on over to my Etsy shop for a couple of little booklets I’ve penned about drawing food.
And I’ve also made a set of cards to offer a little bit of inspiration for drawing your food too!—
I’ve been a bit quiet on this blog for a week or so; the school term has been wrapping up, so I’ve been having to cross t’s and dot i’s and try to reach the end-point with everything completed that needs to be completed and retain my sanity too!
I’ve been working on another little booklet – something a little more interactive (no, not another colouring book!) – initially as an idea for myself, but I thought it might be fun to share it – another week, or thereabouts to finish the drawing work, and I should be ready to start scanning and getting it printed.
How very exciting!
I’ve got an online sketching school video coming along soon! (Okay, I really can’t use exclamation marks at the end of every sentence, can I?)
I was asked if I’d like to present a class (or Klass, as Sketchbook Skool likes to call them) just before Christmas.
So, after having my house filled with a film crew for the day, the Sketchbook Skool people went away and have put my online sketching videos together.
Here I am in the latest promo video!
Danny Gregory writes about our inner monkey – that nagging voice that criticises and pulls faces at our ideas and our attempts to put them into practice.
Let me put this into context for me.
This monkey drawing was a commission for a colleague at work.
I do not know this monkey.
It is not my inner monkey.
When I was asked to draw it – a monkey with a mug of coffee – I carried it out not realising the meaning for myself.
Sometimes out monkeys screech and cry loudly in our minds, sometimes they go quiet and I’m pleased to feel that my own personal inner monkey is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment. It is taking a break. It is no longer in the house.
It’s nice to think that the darned monkey won’t return, but I’m sure it will. (I’ll enjoy the ride more whilst it’s putting it’s feet up for a while) But what would art life be like if it weren’t there at all? How can we truly relish those full-on creative times , when nothing stands in our way, if we can’t recall those times when our inner monkeys mock and deride our work?
We can only appreciate the sweet when we also put up with the sour.
I’d love to be able to say that I have some magic words to help push through blocks and ruts, but I don’t. I think the main thing about making art, is … making art. But sometimes we have to look up and study the landscape that we are going to paint. Sometimes we have to reflect and do other things, so that we can bounce back and leave our monkey standing, er sitting with it’s coffee.
Bemused, perhaps, at our creative surge, but silent.
Well … sort of .
Hit the link above to see my original posting.
Any changes? Well, I’ve tinkered with the text a little. Just a bit here and there, just to tidy it up.
A bed and breakfast in York has requested a print of the sketch for one of there themed rooms, so I’ve polished the writing up a bit so it’s a bit more A2 print-worthy! Yes, you heard it here first … A2! Blimey! I’m used to seeing my little sketches in teeny tiny A5 sketchbooks.
Anyway, back to the story …
When I originally posted the sketch I can’t believe that I missed out the best bit!
As usual before I started sketching I took a quick photo – using my iPad for a change.
Sketched my Fat Rascal and cup of tea – then enjoyed them.
By which time Caroline had finished her meeting and had come to join me for a second round of refreshing tea.
and then we headed back to the car ….
Reaching for iPad … I found that was super hot and the battery was down to a low percentage.
Somehow it had been taking photos the whole time! From the point when my tea and cake arrived – through my sketching and relaxing, then sitting with Caroline chatting and the walk back to the car!
I had about 3500 photos to delete on the way home!
And all of the inside of my bag
Each of the following photographs had several hundred examples. And while I can appreciate their, quite outstanding photographic excellence, it was a bit tedious scrolling down through hundreds of them!
And deleting them too!
Now, I love my drawing bag as much as the next person but 3500 photos from the inside seemed a little extreme!
This month’s Camping and Caravanning Club Magazine boasts my illustrations splashed across the cover.
Well, actually, not just splashed across the cover, but the magazine title too. I guess it seems quite fitting when the magazine is a Food Special
Some of these illustrations are from the inside of the magazine – this month’s Eat Local article is about cafes.
But most of them were commissioned for cover. All cakes and tarts and puddings and a barbecue.
I’ve finally added a link to my shop on Etsy.
If you click on the shop sign in the right-hand column that takes you straight there.
Now, this shop is quite, quite tiny at the moment. (A shoppette, if you will) I’m in the process of producing cards and what-not to full it up a bit more.
At the moment there are a couple of postcards on there, as well as a button to commission a recipe drawing from me.
If you’d like a recipe drawing: Just send along that special family recipe, with a photograph of the finished dish and I’ll turn it into a permanent piece of recipe art that you can have on your kitchen wall, or give away to a friend. My mum’s Bakewell Tart is one of her signature dishes, for example. So I’m illustrating that for her kitchen wall.
The postcard pictures of a pear and a banana were done as gifts for people. A friend has asked me to make an apple in the same series, so they can have the series of three on their kitchen wall.
There are more things on the way, in the next week or so. I’ll fill you in when they’re up and running.
I’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!)