Portrait of Mike and His Friend

illustration, double portrait, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, portrait, cartoon, man, pinkpop, festival, drawing, painting

I was commissioned to make this double portrait while I was staying in Holland. I worked from a photo and made a linework likeness in pencil, drew over it in waterproof pen and then coloured it in with watercolour paints.

pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor,portrait, cartoon, man, pinkpop, festival, drawing, painting

This was a time consuming lesson in getting the brief clear from the get go.

Initially I understood that Mike only wanted a portrait of his buddy, not a double portrait and I went ahead and finished it (below) without double checking. We were both disappointed at the mix up but very happy with the final outcome.

 

Campground Map and Sign

I was staying at Camping Schoonenberg, a beautiful campgound set in woodland in North Holland when one of the staff members saw me painting a portrait. He showed a photo of my painting to the manager who asked me to make a new combined sign and map for the campground. Delighted!

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I started by making a rough map of the campground as I walked around it, using an aerial view from google earth as a template for the outline. The manager then helped me number the camping places and mark which ones had electricity.

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I then drew the full size map out on paper and added all the details and text (above). 

handpainted sign, signwriting, map, map making, campground, forest, woodland, camping schoonenberg, driehuis, north holland, holland, acrylic paint, wood, illustration, leaves, brambles, sign, painting, art

Once the draft had been approved I traced it onto a piece of primed marine plywood which had been cut to allow a narrow unpainted border.

handpainted sign, signwriting, map, map making, campground, forest, woodland, camping schoonenberg, driehuis, north holland, holland, acrylic paint, wood, illustration, leaves, brambles, sign, painting, art

Since the sign will be hung in a place which is sheltered from direct sunlight and rain and will be stored inside during the winter months when the campground is closed I chose to use acrylic paints which are water based. That makes the whole process much cleaner and odour free.

handpainted sign, signwriting, map, map making, campground, forest, woodland, camping schoonenberg, driehuis, north holland, holland, acrylic paint, wood, illustration, leaves, brambles, sign, painting, art

 

IJmuiden Port from Forteiland

A quick sketch of IJmuiden Port from Forteiland.
pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, sketch, sketchbook, art, port, harbour, boats, ferries, docks, lighthouse, IJmuiden, Forteiland, Holland

Wedding Card

love, portrait, wedding, card, bride and groom, wedding portrait, happy couple, marriage, double portrait, black and white, drawing, digital art, illustration

I went to the beautiful wedding of this  delightful couple recently. It was a gorgeous day – really fun and moving.

This is the card I made them, adapted from photos I found on their Instagram feed. 

I drew the portrait in pencil, scanned it into Photoshop where I tinkered with it, then printed it onto card.

Wishing them all the love and luck in the world for a long and happy marriage.

Amsterdam Sketch

amsterdam, canal, townhouse, bicycle, netherlands, holland, watercolour, watercolor, painting, sketch, sketchbook, art, drawing, urban sketchers, boat

I recently went on a day trip to Amsterdam with the intention of sketching the classic townhouse, canal, boat and bike combo.

Job done!

It was a showery day so it took me a little to find a dry place to sit with the right view.

Lovely to wander around this beautiful city, even in the rain.

Retro Caravan Sketch

eriba touring, caravan, retro, retro caravan, camping, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, sketch, sketchbook, art

This delightful, tiny 1987 model Eriba Touring caravan was parked up for a few days on the same campground as us.

The van’s been in the proud possession of the same woman for thirty years and her father painted the floral designs on the sides.

Cute as a button!

Lighthouse Sketch – IJmuiden

 

pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, sketch, sketchbook, art, lighthouse, IJmuiden, Holland

I made this little sketch down at IJmuiden Harbour in North Holland.

It was a hot, windy day so I had to be very quick.

Merman – Do Not Resuscitate

merman, fish tail, portrait, watercolor, watercolour, painting, sketchbook, tattoos, tattooed man, do not resuscitate

Here’s a photo collage of a recent pen and watercolour portrait I made of Rob (who likes to think of himself as my muse…he might be right!)

I worked from a photo I took of him lounging, the perspective was such that his enormous feet on the end of his crossed long legs reminded me of a fish tail so I drew him as a merman.

I took the liberty of editing his tattoos, which in reality cover his whole torso, because I wanted the focus to fall on the “Do Not Resuscitate” text on his chest. That’s my favourite.

Apple Blossom – Essex

apple blossom, flowers, springtime, essex, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, illustration, leaves

Back on home turf, quite literally, I was moved to try and capture the springtime beauty of the apple blossom on the tree in my mum and dad’s back garden.

apple blossom, flowers, springtime, essex, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, illustration, leaves

apple blossom, flowers, springtime, essex, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, illustration, leaves

Artwork in India (12) – Himachal Pradesh

tirthan valley, himachal pradesh, india, collage, airmail, pen and wash, watercolour, landscape, travel blog, travel illustration, river, mountains, rocks, watercolor, sketchbook

Himachal Pradesh was on my wishlist from February but the weather was just too cold to make the trip pleasurable until spring finally arrived halfway through April. 

I kept seeing gorgeous photos on Instagram and eventually booked two sets of accommodation in the Tirthan Valley. It was still damp and rainy when we arrived but we had a wood burner and electric blankets in our room to turn the chill into cosy.

To reach Himachal Pradesh from West Bengal we took a taxi from Siliguri to Bagdogra, flew to Delhi then on to Chandigarh (both steaming hot), then hired a car and driver to drop us in the Tirthan Valley.

Flights from Delhi to Kullu Manali (Himachal Pradesh’s airport)  are extremely expensive and unreliable due to the weather conditions, and while night buses from Delhi to Kullu are cheap, they take about 10 hours and don’t have proper sleeper berths (just reclining seats).

So that’s why we opted for the car and driver; door to door convenience, comfort and a reasonable price. Salman the driver loved the trip too, it was his first visit to Tirthan and he was mightily impressed by the phenomenal landscape.

A landscape which I found impossible to capture well in watercolour. I made one attempt which ended in frustration so I covered the mess with a collage and did a simple sketch on top. Life is too short to labour over landscapes when you can simply admire them.

tirthan valley, himachal pradesh, himalayas, mountains, india, travel photography, wanderlust, travel blog, springtime

Still with an eye on the weather in desirable destinations like Manali and Mcleodganj (the Dalai Lama’s base in India) at higher altitudes we decided to stay put in the Banjar region until we had to return to Delhi and then to London. Comfort won out over curiosity; a sign of age perhaps.

Himachal Pradesh is a fantastic place to finish my trip. The weather is gentle as are our generous hosts here in the Tirthan Valley. 

I also found this epic book in our guesthouse and was immediately hooked.

India had been a profoundly wonderful and confusing experience, there were many points when I felt like I’d had enough but then something amazing would happen and I’d bounce back. 

Arundhati Roy, perhaps as only an Indian woman can, weaves a beautiful tale entwining the tragic, seemingly eternal (and universally human) threads of sexism, racism, classism, religion, corruption, exploitation and violence in ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’. The book is mostly set in Kashmir and Delhi but encompasses the whole of India.

“They aren’t very good at other people’s pain. But then who is? … What we have on our hands is a species problem. None of us is exempt.”

A sad but funny and fascinating read and a great Indian history lesson.

Europe will undoubtedly seem pale after India but I will be happy to dress and express myself as I wish again without worrying that I’m offending anyone.

That’s a huge luxury, as is white privilege – being born in a relatively rich, secular and democratic country.

tirthan valley, himachal pradesh, himalayan foothills, kullu, india, springtime, countryside, flowers, mountains, cactus, slate roof

Himachal Pradesh is so beautiful in the springtime and the people of the Tirthan Valley are so warm, kind and hospitable. We climbed up a really big hill today; up a dirt track, stone steps, through flowery meadows full of butterflies, we passed a waterfall, a few slate roofed cottages and a tiny school. Near the top a dog started barking at us quite enthusiastically; his lovely family gave us a glass of cold cordial and invited us in to see the temple in their new wooden house. We had very few words in common but they worked.

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Little sketchbook homage to the humble bidi (or beedi) a cheap but tasty Indian smoke. Basically it’s a leaf rolled around a tiny bit of tobacco, secured with a string. There was a bidi factory in Bundi, a beautiful town in Rajasthan that I visited in January. The bidies in the image above are painted, the rest is a collage of beautiful bidi packaging.