Pre-Loved Fashion Drawings

fashion, high heels, handbag, leather, gloves, head over heels, bags of style, silky inside, mary's living and giving, save the children, charity, shop, designer, sketch, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, painting, illustration, charity, bermondsey, london, ethical, sustainable, reuse, recycle, donate, volunteerI recently moved back to London – a rather unexpected and initially unwanted development – but it’s actually turned out to be quite wonderful…

I was having a wander around my district the other day and saw a sign outside the Mary’s Living & Giving Shop in Bermondsey Street asking for volunteers. The Mary in the title is Mary Portas, ‘Queen of Shops’, and the 23 Living and Giving shops in London all sell donated new and pre-loved fashion in aid of Save The Children. So I signed up…what better way to contribute to a worthy cause, meet new people and hang out in a gorgeous place? Not to mention the beautiful pre-loved designer gear (no staff discounts!).

During my first shop shift I felt inspired to draw some of the delightful items on display so I signed them out in the ‘borrow book’ and took them home.

I started by making some sketches to test colours and layout, taking elements from the shop decoration (by Elno Art) to use as the border.

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I was pleased with the sketches but I wanted to develop them into more polished pieces which I could donate to the shop. I got the sketches enlarged by photocopy so that I could trace the layout onto lovely heavy watercolour paper without having to start the whole design process again from scratch.

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Once the pencil line work was complete I went over it with water resistant pens of various nib sizes

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Then with the pen outline finished I rubbed out the pencil marks and started adding layers of watercolour paint

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Obviously the shoe drawing is my favourite…the actual shoes are my size but those heels are really high and my knees are middle aged!

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Finally I got the completed pictures scanned…

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I will be so proud to have my drawings displayed in the shop and maybe even sell them – all proceeds to Save the Children.

Pre-loved fashion – sustainable, ethical and beautiful; reuse, recycle, donate!

Update: On 21st March 2018 my lovely friend Wendy came by the shop to buy ‘Head over Heels’! Thank you!

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Annie B’s Food Map

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The delightful Annie B of Spanish Kitchen fame recently asked me to paint her a map showing the eating and drinking delights of the area around Vejer de la Frontera, where we are both based.

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Annie runs sherry tasting classes and cookery courses as well as tapas and wine tasting tours in Andalusia and Morocco. I made a food and drink themed sketch style painting for her a couple of years ago which she used as a Christmas card (right) and she had the idea to turn the food map into her Christmas card this year.

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So the first stage of the map design was to work out the extent of the area which could be comfortably accommodated in the same card format.

I roughly sketched the map in coloured pencil (above) and then cropped it until Annie was happy with the layout; then we decided which food and drink elements would be represented and Annie gave me specific tips on how they should be shown. For instance the tuna fish needed yellow spines on their backs, the Retinto cow should be sitting on the beach and the Osborne sherry bull needed well defined ‘cojones’ (I’ll leave you to google that if you’re unsure of the meaning!).

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At this stage I got the posh paper out (Arches 300g cold pressed watercolour), tore it to the correct size and taped it to a board before drawing the finalised map carefully in pencil (above).

Once I was happy with the outline I drew over it in water resistant pen (above) and added colour in layers of watercolour paint (below).

The final stage was to add a bit of multicoloured ‘magic splatter’ by tapping my loaded paintbrush all over the map which I find makes the texture more interesting as well as unifying the image (below and top).

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The cards should be delivered next week, I’m really looking forward to popping in to Annie’s to collect mine with a nice drop of sherry on the side! 

Cover Design – ‘Green Tea’

My lovely and very talented friend, the actor, playwright, voice over artist and photographer Marcel Snyders recently asked me to design the cover for his play ‘Té Verde’ (‘Green Tea’ in English) which will soon be published in Spain.

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Té Verde is a funny and chilling tale dealing with strained family relationships as a mother waits impatiently to die while being attended by her two daughters and two volunteer carers in a hospice.

Having read the play I laughed out loud and immediately agreed to take the project on.

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I roughly sketched out my initial idea of an aerial view of two tea cups a number of times (above) until I’d found the version which ‘clicked’.

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The rough full size layout of the chosen design is shown above.

The closeness of the cups represents the relationship between the two green tea drinking characters in the play; also, the angle between the cup handles and the intersection of the saucers at the edge of the image is intended to create a sense of tension. 

Marcel approved the layout at this stage and I drew the design out more carefully on watercolour paper, first in pencil, then in waterproof pen before adding layers of watercolour paint (below).

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Marcel was keen on an eye catching combination of green and red for the cover; they’re complementary colours which makes them ‘pop’ dramatically when they appear next to each other; an effect that further raises the tension of the composition.

Finally I scanned the painting into Photoshop, added the text and some ‘splatter’ effects to reinforce the violence suggested by the ‘bloody’ background  (below and top).

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Bar Día – A Love Story

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I was asked by José to make this pen and watercolour drawing as a wedding present for Blaise and Letitia, to celebrate their first ever meeting.

José wrote this poem to go with the drawing

Se dice que fue como un relámpago,
en cosa de un segundo,
segundo y medio a lo sumo,
un estallido de rosas cayendo de su pecho
al albur de unos ojos,
un traqueteo de piernas,
el suspiro de un miedo
y un miedo vencido con solo una palabra.
 
Se dice que alguien se enamoró aquel día
como tantas otras veces otras gentes
pero yo que he visto conozco esta historia
puedo dejarla escrita en estos versos
puedo decir seguro 
que mereció la pena.
 
Which translates as
 
It is said that it was like a lightning bolt, 
a matter of a second, 
a second and a half at most, 
an explosion of roses falling from his chest 
to the fate of eyes, 
a quiver of legs, 
the sigh of fear
and fear overcome with only one word. 
 

It is said that someone fell in love that day 
like so many other people at other times 
but I’ve seen, I know this story 
I can leave it written in these verses 
I can say for sure 
that it was worth it.

 

It’s a beautifully romantic project for a very lovely couple, I wish them all the best for their wedding today (11th August 2017) in Taiwan and their long and happy future together. 
 
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Obviously it was impractical for me to travel to Mallorca to draw the bar so I worked from a photo that José found on the internet, rendering the outline first in pencil then in pen (above left and right) before applying the watercolour (top).

Dragonfly Tunic Dress

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So this little number is the result of my third dress making adventure; using a black on beige version of my dragonfly fabric design which I had digitally printed in the UK by Woven Monkey.

I find the boat neck / empire line combination really comfortable and flattering so I’ve continued it here but by cutting the hem straight and splitting the sides I’ve converted the dress into more of a tunic which allows for much more movement below the waist…I can run in this one but long undergarments are essential for the preservation of modesty!

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I wanted to make the bodice of this dress more closely fitting which meant putting in more darts and a zip. I opted to put an ‘invisible’ zip in the side seam (right) and thanks to guidance from several YouTube tutorials my first ever attempt worked pretty well.

 

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I also decided to sew on a long black ribbon to accentuate the empire line and add a bit of flounce round the back.

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While making my first two dresses – from my Dragonfly (white on grey version) and Horse fabrics – I’d come to love bias binding so I decided to use it to make a contrasting trim around the neck, arm holes and hem on this dress. I was also inspired (by a pair of black, beige and orange shorts I own) to add an orange top stitch to jazz up the black and beige combination.

Feels jolly nice on and washes well! Yay!

 

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Horse Dress

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I’m jolly pleased with my horse dress; the result of my latest adventure in home sewing. It’s a variation of the first dress I ever made (a shift style sewn from my dragonfly fabric) and since I mastered the use of bias binding on that project I decided to make an external feature of it this time; embellishing it with contrasting stitching. 

horse, sketelon, carousel, roundabout, merry-go-round, cotton, fabric, surface design, illustration, textile design, woven monkey, bias binding, dress making, shift, dress, sewing, homemade

horse, sketelon, carousel, roundabout, merry-go-round, cotton, fabric, surface design, illustration, textile design, woven monkey, bias binding, dress making, shift, dress, sewing, homemade, skeleton, day of the dead, halloween, horse, carousel, fair ground, roundabout, pencil drawingThe horse motif was inspired by the extraordinarily beautiful hand painted artwork I saw when Carter’s Steam Fair visited Maldon in Essex.

I made a pencil drawing (left) using my photos for reference, taking a morbid turn by adding the skeleton of the horse as part of the decoration.skeleton, horse, halloween, day of the dead, roundabout, repeat pattern, illustration, surface design, horse, sketelon, carousel, roundabout, merry-go-round, cotton, fabric, surface design, illustration, textile design, woven monkey, bias binding, dress making, shift, dress, sewing, homemade

I vectorised the drawing in Illustrator, used Photoshop to colour it and make the repeat pattern, which I then had printed onto a light cotton by the lovely folk at Woven Monkey.

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The dress feels lovely on, here’s me posing about in it on my 50th birthday.

 

 

Could it possibly be said that I’m flogging a dead horse? You bet!

Dragonfly Dress

I just made myself this dress with fabric printed with a version of the dragonfly design I made back in 2014.

I uploaded my design to the Woven Monkey website and they printed it onto a lightweight cotton.

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It’s the first dress I’ve ever made; patterns give me the heebeegeebees so I cut round one of my favourite dresses and made the rest up as I went along.

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It was also the first time I’ve used bias binding as I’d previously imagined it to be a right faff but there really is no other way to neatly finish neck and armholes. I watched a couple of tutorials on YouTube and bit the bias binding bullet; it’s actually quite straightforward and I’ll definitely be using it more in the future.

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Here’s me doing ‘catalogue’ poses in Cádiz this week, during the dress’s first outing.

 

 

 

 

Herman@ de Tod@s

Arte Vejer recently staged a group exhibition of artworks made by local artists inspired by the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca who was murdered 80 years ago on the orders of Franco the fascist dictator.

Lorca was born on the 5th June (the same day as me) in 1898 (several years before me) in a small town close to Granada. That’s why I chose the pomegranate as the theme for my collage; granada means pomegranate in Spanish and the ancient town was renamed after the fruit during the Moorish period.

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The pomegranate is also a symbol of abundance and fertility which aptly describes Lorca’s imagination, passion and creative genius; he was a  prolific writer, considered to be one of Spain’s most important poets and published his first book at the age of 21.

The first stage of the process (above) was to blacken the background (paper on cardboard) and outline the pomegranate seeds with layers of charcoal.

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Lorca moved to Madrid in 1919 and devoted himself entirely to his art which was infused with the flamenco culture of his native Andalusia. He was a contemporary of Buñuel and Dalí who introduced him to surrealism. Lorca and Dalí had a particularly intimate relationship involving ‘love, passion and respect‘ but it is rumoured that Dalí’s aversion to physical contact and his repressed sexuality led him to reject Lorca’s advances.

I painted the seeds and persistent calyx (the bit at the top of the fruit) with acrylic.

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In 1929 Lorca left Spain to spend a year in New York where he was inspired by the African-American spirituals he heard in Harlem, his favourite part of the city.

Next I collaged a map of the world over the background (above), this represents the international reach of Lorca’s work and art in general as well as his time abroad. I then painted over it with acrylic.

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The text is an extract from one of Lorca’s last interviews.

Here’s the full quote in Spanish:

“Yo soy español integral y me sería imposible vivir fuera de mis límites geográficos; pero odio al que es español por ser español nada más, yo soy hermano de todos y execro al hombre que se sacrifica por una idea nacionalista, abstracta, por el sólo hecho de que ama a su patria con una venda en los ojos. El chino bueno está más cerca de mí que el español malo. Canto a España y la siento hasta la médula, pero antes que esto soy hombre del mundo y hermano de todos. Desde luego no creo en la frontera política.”

And translated into English

“I am Spanish through and through and it would be impossible for me to live outside my geographic boundaries; but I hate those Spanish people who are merely Spanish and nothing more, I am brother to all and abhor the man who sacrifices himself to an abstract nationalist idea purely because he blindly loves his homeland. I feel closer to the good Chinese man than the bad Spanish man. I sing to Spain and feel her in my marrow, but before that I am a man of the world and brother of all. Of course I don’t believe in political borders.”

The quote really sang to me when I came across it; it seems particularly apposite in these times of Brexit and Trump when ugly nationalism and bigotry are on the rise again. 

I cut the letters for the text from magazines and stuck them down in the style of an old fashioned ransom note (above) as a reference to the fact that Lorca was abducted before being killed by a falangist firing squad.

I added ‘A’s to the ‘O’s of ‘hermano’ and ‘todos’ to explicitly make the words gender neutral which also happily turned those letters into anarchist symbols.

Next I painted electrical cables emerging from the calyx of the pomegranate (below) to turn it into a fairy light. I made this piece just before Christmas so it was seasonally apt (although I am a huge fan of the year round fairy light) and it also suggests that the earth is but a bauble hanging in the vastness of the universe and that we humans take our opinions about our piffling differences far too seriously.

The final stage of the process (below) was to paint crackle glaze over the whole of the image before applying bitumen, gold paint and glitter as stains.

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Lorca was staying at his family’s country home just outside Granada when the civil war started in 1936. About a month before his incarceration and murder on August 19th Lorca had a disturbing dream in which he was being menaced by a group of grieving women waving black crucifixes.

Archaeologists are still searching for the exact burial site of Lorca’s body. 

RetroNuevo Tags

graphic design, cockerel, retronuevo, vintage, tag, tapas, wild olive, wood, chopping board, sherry, garlic, chorizo, cheese, ham, paddle

When my friends at RetroNuevo asked me if I’d adapt my cockerel design to make vintage style tags for their hand crafted tapas boards I agreed with relish (pun intended). 

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I’ve long been an admirer of their magic mixing of reclaimed and modern materials with paint effects to make marvellous muebles (= furniture in Spanish)…

 

 

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…as shown in these drawer details above and right.

 

 

 

Making the Tapas Boards

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The wood was ‘harvested’ from century old wild Andalucian olive wood (acebuche) which had been felled naturally by the wind. No live trees were harmed in this process!

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The tapas boards were lovingly hand-hewn from hefty planks, each one unique in shape and grain.

They’re ideal for cutting and presenting food – tapas style, I also see them as works of art in their own right.

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graphic design, cockerel, retronuevo, vintage, tag, tapas, wild olive, wood, chopping board

Making the Tags

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These are the steps I took to make the cockerel side of the tag in Photoshop:

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  1. Scan a luggage tag to make a template in Photoshop
  2. Cut out the rivet and surrounding circle and place in separate new layers, make sure the rivet hole is the same size as the hole punch and ‘age’ the surrounding circle using scanned wax seal image
  3. Place the cockerel image above the background layer and below the rivet layers
  4. Deepen the colour of the cockerel image by duplicating the layer and changing the mode to ‘multiply’. Scan a vintage letter and place it above the cockerel layers in ‘multiply’ mode to add interesting stains
  5. Add the RetroNuevo logo
  6. Put a broken layer of white behind the logo to make it stand out
  7. ‘Age’ the edges of the tag by adding extra layers of parts of the vintage letter in ‘multiply’ mode

graphic design, cockerel, retronuevo, vintage, tag, tapas, wild olive, wood, chopping boardThese are the steps I took to make the reverse side of the tag in Photoshop:

graphic design, Photoshop, process, cockerel, retronuevo, vintage, tag, tapas, wild olive, wood, chopping board

  1. Scan a luggage tag to make a template in Photoshop, see above
  2. Add the rivet and surround as above
  3. Scan a vintage receipt, cut and paste lines in layers
  4. Add the scanned vintage letter in a ‘multiply’ / ‘soft light’ mode layer as above to add texture and colour
  5. Cut and paste the border from the vintage receipt. Download a vintage stamp from the correct era and add in two layers – multiply + soft light
  6. Add text and RetroNuevo logo
  7. Age the edges of the tag by adding extra layers of parts of the vintage letter in ‘multiply’ mode as above

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graphic design, cockerel, retronuevo, vintage, tag, tapas, wild olive, wood, chopping board

 

The double sided tags were printed locally on 300g watercolour paper to give them good heft and texture.

They were then cut, perforated with a hole punch and had their cut edges ‘aged’ with a brown felt tip pen before being strung with rustic twine.

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These gorgeous and versatile boards will soon be on sale with other delightful RetroNuevo items such as wardrobes, doors, benches, vintage crates, fittings and other reclaimed treaures at the pop-up shop in San Ambrosio, near Vejer on the 9th, 10th and 11th of December 12-3pm . 

Click here for the exact location

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retronuevo, reclaimed, upcycled, vintage, style, draw, paint effects, furniture, wardrobe

World Mental Health Day – get The Black Dawg eBook for free !

10th October 2016 is World Mental Health Day

To mark the occasion we are giving away ‘The Black Dawg – an illustrated poem about Depression and Hope’ in its eBook format!

The offer will run until the end of October 2016 – all you need to do is click here to get in contact and we’ll email you the eBook.

Please feel free to share this offer widely and if you like the book it would be wonderful if you could please give us a positive review on GoodreadsAmazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Amazon.es and / or anywhere else you fancy.

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World Mental Health Day

  • was first celebrated on 10th October 1992 at the initiative of the global mental health organisation The World Federation for Mental Health
  • this year’s theme is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress. There’s a wonderful TED talk here by Guy Winch on that very subject
  • is a day to raise awareness of mental illness and the huge impact it has on many people’s lives worldwide

Some shocking statistics from the Mental Health Foundation – please don’t look away

  • 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
  • 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • 1 in 6 adults had a common mental health problem in the past week.
  • 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • In the UK mental health problems are responsible for the largest burden of disease – 28% of the burden, compared to 16% each for cancer and heart disease.
  • WHO states that ‘if we don’t act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally.’
  • In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales at present.

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The Mental Health Foundation’s top 10 tips for looking after your mental health

1. Talk about your feelings

2. Exercise

3. Eat well

4. Drink sensibly

5. Keep in touch with loved ones

6. Ask for help

7. Take a break

8. Do something you’re good at

9. Accept who you are

10. Care for others

I love that whole list…

…and have found that cultivating mindfulness and taking regular exercise are particularly helpful for improving my emotional well-being.

Making the illustrations for The Black Dawg book also helped me enormously – I am much more adept at recognising and dismantling the process which starts as a single negative thought before it suddenly swells into an overwhelming landslide of undermining and vitriolic self-loathing mind-babble with accompanying anxiety and exhaustion as my psyche does battle with itself.

Eckhart Tolle’s theory about the ‘pain body’ really rings true for me; seeing the negativity as a separate entity gives me more strength to keep it in check and overcome its insidious effects in the moment it arises.

‘Coming out’ as depressive has also been liberating and strangely uplifting in that it’s enabling me to form stronger and more open connections with my friends and family and even with people I don’t know. As Brené Brown says in her funny and brilliant TED talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ – “connection gives meaning and purpose to our lives; it’s why we’re here.”

And we are all in this together…

Louis, who wrote The Black Dawg poem, and I strongly believe that The Black Dawg book can help people suffering from depression feel less isolated. We also hope that it will help friends and family to better understand how it feels to be depressed. And that’s why we want to share it – we think it’s a valuable resource in the armoury against mental illness.

This evening the Chicken & Frog bookshop in Brentwood, Essex are holding an auction in aid of The Young People’s Counselling Service and we’re delighted that The Black Dawg book and some signed prints of the ‘Spiralling Branches’ illustration from the book will be included.

Dr Carole Easton, chief executive of The Young Women’s Trust explains why it’s so important to build resilience in children and to prevent mental issues becoming mental illnesses in this Huffpost article ‘Young People’s Mental Health – We Must Do More

Click here if you’d like to read more about The Black Dawg project.

Take excellent care of yourself!

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