North Leeds Food Festival

Lucy was doing a Saturday morning course at Leeds University Art Department a few months ago; she really enjoyed experimenting with various art forms and it was a good excuse for Caroline and I to hang out in Leeds for a couple of hours; just enough time to wander into town and grab a cup of tea!

On one of the notice boards there was a poster calling out for volunteers to help illustrate for North Leeds Food Festival. (Facebook Event)

South West - Riverford boxI emailed with my details and now find myself finishing off an illustration for the festival.

Trying to think of a foodie-related thing to tap into people’s feelings about food festivals – especially when they’re focussed on local produce – I figured a ‘fruit and veg box’ would be a good way to go.

Not this particular fruit and veggie box (on the left) as this was one I produced for Ali Ray’s “Pitch Up, Eat Local” cookery book a couple of years ago, for The AA.

So I’ve been working on a fresh box! In fact I only checked out this older drawing as I was completing the Leeds Food Festival illustration; and I think the newer one is a bit more colourful as it includes fruit and vegetables together.


Drawing food and little booklets


03 - Trout smWordPress have featured my drawing in an article about food drawing bloggers!

“Have Your Cake and Draw it Too” – Food Illustrators Reflect on Taste and memory

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!IMG_3423

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.

Herne the Hunter

01 Herne smokay – so, going back to the magazine commission couple of months ago …

and here we have Herne the Hunter – a kind of mystical tree/stag spirit of the woods.

For these illustrations I was trying to channel nostalgia – each of the five illustrations was of a different legendary character, so I felt it necessary to illustrate them in a suitable style.

I choose to illustrate the mythical spirit of the greenwood not as a stag-headed man, but as a man dressed in stag garb, purely in reference to the old “Robin of Sherwood” television series from the early/mid eighties.

Again, the trees are an amalgam from various John Ford woodland illustrations.

on a vaguely related note …

I Know What I’m Doing This Summer

… I’ve not posted for a little while – well, my reasons are several-fold; I find myself in the exciting position of being spewed out of mainstream 9 to 5 work in a small handful of weeks – an escape from full-time teaching (again! … “Just when I thought I’d got out! They pull me back in!”) So, I’ve got a bunch of weeks over the Summer break to put together a wider range of products -; some cards and another booklet, methinks. I know what it is that I want to do ….

.. but, it ain’t half tricky motivating oneself towards goals like this without deadlines! I’m trying to set the deadline of the end of the Summer break (for UK schools) as I’ll be dipping my toes back in the exciting world of supply teaching again!


How (not) to write a booklet

SBS_Logo-d64fdf287862cc613549ad733415f057At this very moment … my Sketchbook Skool videos are live and I’m checking in every so often to respond to the students’ questions and some of their amazing responses to my ‘draw your food’ challenge.

When I was first asked if I’d like to take part I thought it would be pretty cool if students could buy a little booklet with some of my foodie drawings in – but I couldn’t figure out how to present it. Sketching chum Andrea Joseph has presented a few in the still of sketching manuals and other sketchers who concentrate on urban sketching can get away with presenting drawings showing a particular area.

How could I present food drawings?

At first I thought about presenting it in the form of a menu; with different dishes from starter, main course and pudding. That seemed like a logical choice – nice and organised. But then, where would an ice-cream, or hot-dog, picked up in the park, fit in? (Can I hasten to add that I didn’t pick it up off the floor, but rather from a hot-dog stand!)

I started jotting down some sketches that I particularly liked and realised that I always seem to be playing around with where my drawings are located on the page.

So … I started to jot down all the different ways I could think of.

And that’s where my problems began.

(This was only about five or six weeks ago)

I realised that I could broadly divide these different ways of drawing food into three areas;

Position – So where the drawing is located on the page, or which direction the drawing is going in.

Focus – Which I thought of as how I’m approaching a drawing; such as a close-up, or a side-view

and finally

Location – Because sometimes there are elements at the restaurant that you can include in your drawing

… and then …

IMG_3310I realised that it would be possible to mix and match elements from these three areas; so why not include a set of cards to play with – to truly randomise things.

So I eventually came up with

24 Position cards

14 Focus cards

9 Location cards

Then I realised that they needed a box to live in too – but I couldn’t design that until the cards had all been designed and printed; so that they would fit inside the box properly.

– There are a variety of ways that these can be used;

Take a card from each pile to influence all three elements.

Take one card only as a guide.

Take out the cards with elements that you usually use before you draw cards.

Sketchbook Skool were interested in offering the cards as a free gift to the students of my klass – so I PDF’d a few of the cards from each set for them.

The set of cards on Etsy contains the full set of cards + 15 blank cards to add your own mischief; all printed on lovely, thick 350gsm card and with a handy-dandy cut out and keep box to hold them all in.

If you’d like a copy of the card set (plus box) then head on over to my Etsy page

Meanwhile I was feverishly trying to complete the three booklets I’d hit upon.

IMG_3736The Focus booklet was the one I started out doing first – it seemed the most interesting and practical and also had the most pages.

or … how are you going to draw this? Not technique, but approach.

Okay – so it’s made up of 14 sections – most of which are double spreads – discussing each of my Focus ideas. Offering some further twists and turns.

So, for example the pages about boxes, suggests other ways you can stretch and bend the definition of boxes to suit your needs.

If you’d like to check out the Etsy page for this


IMG_3737The Location booklet was the next most useful one.

or … Things to do with your drawing whilst you’re there.

Again, this contains sections covering the 9 Location cards in the card pack; varying between 1 to 3 pages.

If you’d like to check out the Etsy page for this


I’m still working on the Position booklet – mainly because the subject doesn’t really lend itself all that well to me having to explain what the different positions might mean; for example ‘Drawing in the middle of the page’ is pretty self-explanatory, really.

I’m thinking maybe in terms of this booklet showing off drawings in these different positions, but the text focussing on my own personal positions on various aspects of drawing (Y’see what I did there!)


All-in-all the past few weeks have been pretty crazy! After coming up with my initial idea to having got two booklets and a set of accompanying cards has been about five weeks – baring in mind I have a full-time day-job that keeps me busy during the daylight hours. And all those pages are handwritten (Slowly handwritten!)

But it’s been an absolute blast!

The Pink Lady of Bamburgh

04 Pink smI recently had to illustrate a ghostly tale for a magazine.


The tale of the Pink Lady of Bamburgh Castle, in Northumberland.

The story goes that long ago this ghost was a Northumbrian princess.

She fell in love with a boy, whom her father disapproved of; so sent him overseas for seven years. Forbidding the two to keep in touch in any way.

The girl became more and more downhearted at this separation and in a final attempt to resolve the issue, her father told her that his spies had discovered that the boy had married someone else whilst stationed abroad and that, to cheer her up after this news, the castle seamstress would fashion a dress in the girl’s favourite colour; pink.

The girl dressed in her new garment, climbed to the highest part of the castle’s battlements and flung herself down onto the rocks below.

A little while later the boy returned from his station abroad. Unmarried, of course.

Every seven years the process, in her beautiful pink gown is supposed to wander the oldest parts of the castle, before gliding down the rocky path to the beach, where she mournfully gazes out to sea. Awaiting the return of her lost love.


The watercolours I use are a mixture of Winsor and Newton and Schminke. Mostly it’s by accident, rather than design. There’s only the screamingly pink Opera Rose by Winsor and Newton that I am faithful to.


A lovely transparent yellow/green – great for light glazes
Raw Sienna

Yellow Ochre

My two go-to colours for painting browns in food
Translucent Orange – Schminke

I love this vibrant orange/red
Opera Rose – Winsor and Newton

Another one of my must-have’s – purely because it’s so eye-popping – great for the full range of pinks and purples.
May Green – Schminke

Permanent Sap Green – Winsor and newton

– My stand-by green’s for salads

(You’d think that my portable set and the home/studio set would be the same, wouldn’t you!)


Portable set

Some full pans, but mostly half-pans

Palette - PortablePalette – Portable

208 Aureolin Schminke

215 Lemon Yellow Schminke

225 Cadmium Yellow Middle Schminke

218 Translucent Orange Schminke

363 Scarlet Red Schminke

Opera Rose winsor & newton

Cobalt Blue winsor & newton

Cerulean Blue winsor & newton

660 Raw Sienna Schminke

Naples Yellow Deep winsor & newton

Venetian Red winsor & newton

Paynes Grey winsor & newton

783 Payne’s Grey Schminke

509 Cobalt Turquoise Schminke

Permanent Sap Green winsor & newton

524 May Green Schminke

534 Permanent Green Olive Schminke

512 Chromium Oxide Green Schminke

648 Translucent Brown Schminke

668 Burnt Umber Schminke

661 Burnt Sienna Schminke

669 Vandyke Brown Schminke

Palette – Home

This is made up wholly of full pans

Palette - Home

Aureolin winsor & newton

215 Lemon Yellow Schminke

New Gamboge winsor & newton

Cadmium Orange winsor & newton

670 Madder Brown Schminke

Cadmium Red Deep winsor & newton

Opera Rose winsor & newton

Winsor Green winsor & newton

Permanent Sap Green winsor & newton

Hookers Green winsor & newton

524 May Green Schminke

487 Cobalt Blue Light Schminke

Cerulean Blue winsor & newton

783 Payne’s Grey Schminke

Naples Yellow Deep winsor & newton

660 Raw Sienna Schminke

655 Yellow Ochre Schminke

Burnt Sienna winsor & newton

Burnt Umber winsor & newton

669 Vandyke Brown Schminke

Proof That I’m Reading

IMG_3469Sorry, Proof-Reading a few pages.

I’m nearly on the home-stretch now (thank goodness!)

It was only after I’d been filmed for Sketchbook Skool that I hit upon an idea for a little booklet of my drawings.

Well, not just a booklet with my drawings in, but a booklet about some of the different ways I’ve approached drawing my food out.

Once I started jotting down my ideas I quickly realised that the various approaches could be categorised into three broad groups.

Where on the page are you going to draw, how are you going to approach the drawing and are there any environmental elements that you can include.

So I’d gone from one booklet to three.

Then, of course, I thought it’d be fun to be able to mix things up a bit and randomise these different elements.

So I added a pack of cards into the mix, too!

So, over the past four or five weeks I’ve been feverishly working on these – the cards are all done and dusted. Sketchbook Students will be able to download them for free during my week’s course. I’ll also be posting a deluxe version up on Etsy that week. By deluxe I mean thick card, er, cards and a foldable box to keep them all in.

Hopefully all three booklets should be up on Etsy by then too.

The booklets of the cards; explaining my thoughts a little more and offering some further variations.


Draw your Food cards

IMG_3423The homework for my Sketchbook Skool week is to draw a meal out and I’ve just about finished making a set of cards for my students to play with – to inspire them to try some different ways of approaching food drawing.

Sketchbook Skool students will be able to download a set of cards to print out for themselves.

I’m shortly about post the cards onto Etsy; where you will be able to send off for the full set of cards, with some extra blank cards to add your ideas and a box to fold and glue together to keep your cards nice and safe.

Day 1

At the moment these three boxes are hanging around me all the time.

Three A5 jewellery boxes that contain A5 pages of three booklets that I’m working on. Number 2 is just about completed.

#the100dayproject, #notfood
Day 01 sm

The 100 Day Project

13051746_938988112886750_811150003194292378_nThe 100 Days Project

via instagram – starts today – The 19th April.

I’m wondering about starting it – 100 … drawings of NOT food – just to prove that I’m not a one-trick pony