Food, Glorious Food

I love food!

I love thinking about what I’m going to eat. I love looking at food; in shop windows – especially cake shops – but also on Instagram and the telly. Eating it is my absolute favourite thing (expanding middle years waistline attests to that) and painting food was, for a while, an irresistible urge. It’s like the super slow version of an Insta lunch snap.

I’ve collected my best watercolour food paintings and posted them here as a sort of portfolio. Some are simple representations of pretty edibles and others have more of a narrative. Some were quick sketches done on the spot while for others I worked more slowly from photos I took before eating the subject. 

These food illustrations also form a  travel journal of sorts so I’ve divided them by region – London, West Bengal, Cape Verde and Andalusia – and put them in loose reverse chronological order. 

London

afternoon tea, goring hotel, cream tea, cakes, scones, jam, clotted cream, sandwiches, tea, tea pot, watercolour, painting, sketchbook art, sketchbook, food illustration, pen and wash, watercolor, drawing, sketching, london, tea strainer

The combination of the cake stand loaded with colourful, tasty morsels; the striped crockery and the reflective tea pots in the late winter sunshine was quite spectacular. Smitten, I took some photos in preparation for future painting sessions. Then I tucked right in. Afternoon tea at The Goring Hotel – a lovely way to celebrate a birthday with special friends.

Click here to see my original Afternoon Tea post.

yen burger, london, burger, chips, fries, stripes, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketch, sketchbook, food, food illustration, illustration, pen and wash

As soon as I saw this Yen Burger nestled in its little bamboo steamer lined with festive stripy paper my painter’s urge was tweaked. I was on my way to an appointment with no time to paint on the spot so I took a few quick snaps for reference and tucked right in. Yummy Japanese take on the fast food classic. 

Click here to see my original Yen Burger post.

mushrooms, watercolor, puntarelle, bermondsey, london, watercolour, painting, sketchbook, pen and wash, food illustration, illustration, drawing, paint it then eat it

These gorgeous mushrooms are from the Puntarelle & Co Saturday morning fruit and veg market under the Spa Road railway arches. All their produce is lush and carefully laid out in traditional wooden boxes – the antithesis of supermarket shopping. The fungi had a certain sinister drama about them and proved to be delicious.

Click here to see my original Mushrooms post.

Too Good To Go:

Returning to London after a long absence gave me a ‘kid in a sweet shop’ feeling. All those cultural and culinary delights on offer. But the foodie indulgence comes at more than a calorific price.

A friend told me about the Too Good To Go app. It lets you know which local outlets are offering discounts on good food which would otherwise be thrown away at the end of a shift.

It perfectly combines my ‘thinking about what I’m going to eat’ and ‘looking at food’ loves with the bonuses of getting delicious food at bargain prices and combating food waste.

There’s also the surprise element; you’re not sure what you’ll get in your magic bag of rescued goodies until you pitch up at collection time with your online receipt.

These next three are all ‘paint it then eat it’ exercises of Too Good To Go swag.

lolas cup cakes, cup cakes, cake, watercolor, too good to go, fight food waste, watercolour, painting, sketchbook, pen and wash, food illustration, illustration, drawing

Lola’s cupcakes…mmm…yes, I shared them, they were mini but mighty at the same time. Pretty, cheap and exceptionally tasty!

Click here to see my original Cupcake post.

sushi, sushi shop, healthy eating, too good to go, fight food waste, watercolour, painting, sketchbook, pen and wash, food illustration, illustration, drawing

Sushi Shop …well sushi is a work of art in every sense. The high fish and soy content of Japanese food also makes regular eaters less likely to suffer from some classic menopause symptoms. What’s not to like? My rescued sushi was actually one box (at less than half the retail price) but I liked the way it looked as a triptych and it made for an Insta friendly square image.

Click here to see my original Sushi post.

cake, konditor, too good to go, fight food waste, red velvet, chocolate, watercolour, painting, sketchbook, pen and wash, food illustration, illustration, drawing

At the end of the last century I worked for a few months at the Konditor branch near Borough Market. I knew from that experience that the magic bag (box in reality) contents would be divine. Inspired by the promise of eating I worked really fast when I painted these fat wedges of carrot, red velvet and chocolate cake – which I did share with my flatmates.

Click here to see my original Cake post.

West Bengal 

I was lucky enough to spend six months traveling in India. It was an amazing experience and a huge culture shock.

In West Bengal the atmosphere tended to be cooler and calmer and the food was fabulous.
banana, banana split, banana plant, ice-cream, watercolour, watercolor, pen and wash, watercolour portrait, portrait, painting, drawing, sketchbook, food illustration, illustration, travel blog, travel illustration

A banana split is not an inherently Indian dish, but to eat one in close proximity to actual banana trees is an exotic experience. I tried to capture my travel companion’s ‘joy through dessert’ moment in this portrait cum food cum botanical illustration.

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Here I’ve used the repeated orchid motif to represent the horticulture of Kalimpong and the background is inspired by the glorious decoration in the many Buddhist Monasteries there.

thali, watercolor, watercolour, painting, pen and wash, drawing, sketchbook, travel blog, illustration, food illustration, darjeeling, west bengal, dal fry, papad, saag paneer, spinach, cottage cheese, eggplant fritters, beguni, patta gobhi sabji, sabji, aloo sabji, homestay, little singamari, eat like a local, indian food, vegetarian food, home cooking

We boarded in a few home-stays where we were fed delectable, hearty and healthy home-cooked meals several times a day for very little money. We could really taste the love in this food – it was phenomenally satisfying.

puri sabji, indian food, indian breakfast, vegetarian food, aloo gobi matar, potato, cauliflower, peas, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, food illustration, travel blog, travel illustration, eat like a local, food art, watercolour food, pen and wash

Darjeeling was bitterly cold and very damp for our first few days which made venturing outside quite an undertaking. Since I caught a cold as soon as we arrived I was happy to spend hours in front of the heater inside paying pen and watercolour homage to the culinary delights we were experiencing.

kunga restaurant darjeeling, tibetan food, wanton soup, momo, vegetarian food, vegetable spring roll, steamed momo, watercolor, watercolour, painting, drawing, sketchbook, food illustration, travel blog, travel illustration, watercolour food

When we did go out there was usually a visit to Kunga Restaurant involved. My interest in the wanton soup was verging on the hysterical. Momo (small steamed dumplings filled with chicken or vegetables) were ubiquitous in West Bengal and Sikkim – that made me very happy.

Click here to see my original West Bengal post.

Cape Verde

In 2017 I went to see a friend in Cape Verde. She was staying on Sal, the most touristic and least beautiful and interesting of the islands I visited. 

cape fruit, santa maria, sal, cape verde, cabo verde, breakfast, brunch, lunch, smoothies, natural bar, fresh fruit, healthy eating, smoothie, banana, strawberry, coconut, pen and watercolour, sketch, food, illustration, vegan

Cape Fruit restaurant was a great consolation – a beautiful oasis of rustic charm where an expert team of local women made and served healthy, tasty food and drinks. What a joy to order something lovely, paint it at leisure while sitting in the shade and then eat it.

cape fruit, santa maria, sal, cape verde, cabo verde, breakfast, brunch, lunch, smoothies, natural bar, fresh fruit, healthy eating, pancake, banana, grape, papaya, kiwi fruit, honey, water color. pen and watercolour, sketch, food, illustration, vegan

Click here to see my original Cape Verde blog.

Andalusia

At the end of 2014 I was invited to join the Vejer Sketchers, a small but enthusiastic group of artists who met on Saturday mornings in the southern Spanish town where I’d been living for a while. So that following year I finally undertook the regular sketch practice I’d been intending to start for ages.

There can be a ‘safety in numbers’ aspect to ‘urban sketching’ in a group. OK, so you still look like weirdos but you’re a band of weirdos and the inevitable attention of passersby is divided and therefore less intimidating. 

Sometimes we joined or were joined by groups of sketchers from other towns, like Cadiz and Jerez. There is always something new to learn from the methods and materials of other practitioners, and their passion for their craft is infectious. I also found that working in a sketchbook freed me up. There was no way I was going to tear a sheet out of that book so the paintings were for just for me. With no pressure to paint something saleable I started to draw and paint in a quicker, rougher, looser way than before, which made it more fun and more relaxing.

I didn’t often paint food with the group but I did apply my new, looser skills to my depictions of food.

green tea, té verde, book cover, portada, play, comedy, tragicomedy, marcel snyders, playwright, hospice, mother, daughter, illustration, cover design, art, drawing, watercolour, watercolor, acuarela, painting, pintura, ilustración, tea bag, cup, saucer

Marcel commissioned me to paint the cover for his play “Green Tea” (Té Verde) in the sketchy style he liked. He stipulated this complimentary colour combination and left the rest to me. There’s a sinister aspect to the play which is why some of those red splatters look like blood.

Click here to see my original Te Verde blog.

pen, watercolour, water color, drawing, painting, illustration, food, map, andalucia, andalusia, annie b, spanish kitchen, vejer, cadiz, jerez, sherry, cerdo iberico, queso de cabra, goats cheese, iberian pork, retinto, beef, tuna, atun, octopus, pulpo, flamenco, squid, calamari, lemon, limon, anchovies, anchoas, prawns, gambas, atlantic ocean, oceano atlantico, mediterranean sea, mar mediterraneo, solera, spices, vineyard, bodega, chorizo, olive oil, acete de oliva

Annie B is a force of good nature; her food and wine tours and cooking courses are ranked amongst the best on offer in Spain. I was delighted to complete these two commissions from her: to create an Andalusian food and drink map (above) and a food and drink themed Christmas card (below).

annie b, spanish kitchen, spanish cooking, andalucia, cooking courses, sherry, jerez, xerez, tours, lemon, pomegrante, orange, peppers, salmonete, red snapper, mussel, octopus, pulpo, pine, christmas, card, chorizo, pimenton, paprika, sketch, watercolour, pen and watercolour, pine cones, umbrella pine, paella pan, card, christmas card, drawing

Click here to see my original Food Map blog.

Click here to see my original Christmas Card blog.

One of the best aspects of living in a small rural town in southern Spain is the seasonality of the fruit and veg.The seasons for local produce may be very short but the produce itself is perfect while it’s in the green grocer’s.

asparagus, esparrago, spring, vegetables, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, food, illustration

The subtle combination of mauve and green on these tender asparagus stems was utterly beguiling. 

asparagus, esparrago, spring, vegetables, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, food, illustrationClick here to see my original Asparagus post.

strawberries, strawberry, fruit, fresa, fresas, conil, fruta, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, sketch, food, illustration, ilustracion, primavera, spring

Strawberries from Conil taste and smell like those from my pick-your-own childhood. They’re so perfectly ripe that you must eat them on the same day you buy them; resistance is futile.

Here’s my original Strawberries post.

fruit, food, drawing, water colour, sketch, pen and watercolour, juicy, cherries, cherry

I was never aware before Vejer that cherries were graded so fastidiously in Spain. The size of the fruit and presence or absence of a stalk will dictate how much you pay per kilo of these juicy explosions. I never learnt to tell the varieties apart by taste though.

Here’s my original Cherries post.

Tiny, sweet, tender and so, so pretty. I adore peas – and the additional meditative pleasure of popping the pods.

Here’s my original Peas post.

berenjena, aubergine, eggplant, vegetable, food, drawing, water colour, sketch, pen and watercolour, watercolor, illustration

To be honest I’m rarely up for the faff involved in making aubergines edible but that jewel-like burgundy-mauve shade is beguiling.

Here’s my original Aubergine post.

pear, pera, pears, fruit, food, drawing, water colour, sketch, pen and watercolour, juicy

The pear – emblem of feminine strength and creativity, sweet of the autumn. That lichen-like mottling on a pear skin really is splendid.

Here’s my original Pears post.

lemon, ginger, cold cure, fruit, food, drawing, water colour, sketch, pen and watercolour, juicy

And so on to winter, here’s an actual cold cure that I used to treat an actual cold.

Here’s my original Lemon and Ginger post.

A massive and famous advantage of living in Spain is the culture of tapas. A bite or two of a tasty something – usually home-made, with a glass or two of a tasty something – usually alcoholic. 

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In Vejer (as in other places) there are a couple of special weekends a year when tapas competitions are staged. Maps of the Tapas Trail or ‘Ruta de Tapas’ show the locations of the establishments taking part and what they’re serving. Those restaurants work flat out to put their best tapas forward for the delectation of the hundreds of people who work their way around the trail before voting for their favourite dish. 

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This particular weekend I decided to record as many Ruta de Tapas dishes as I could in a ‘paint it then eat it’ way. So I had to work fast and loose…

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Three turned out to be my limit. My best advice for making the most of a Ruta de Tapas? Skip breakfast and start early to beat the crowds.

Here’s my original Tapas post.

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This painting of the facade of Vejer’s Corredera 55 Restaurant is a lovely one to end on. It features food in the bike basket, food in the orange trees, food on the facade and drink on the inside. Ellie the owner commissioned me to make this piece; the original is hanging in the restaurant alongside mini reproductions on the business cards. As it says on the flipside: Eat – Love – Live

business card, corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

Here’s my original Corredera 55 post.

A note on method and materials:

My sketchbook is a Moleskine Watercolour Album, with 200g/sqm paper – that’s the minimum weight of paper that will take good watercolour washes without too much buckling. It’s 21x13cm; small enough to be portable but the double page length of 42cm allows for a nice big span. If I’m working on a pen and wash commission I’ll use 300g/sqm paper and cut it to size myself.

I always start with a 2B pencil drawing; when I’m happy with the layout I go over the outline with water resistant pens. Adding squiggly lines to the main outline makes it more lively.

I erase most of the the pencil before layering watercolour washes; when I’m happy with the intensity of the colours I’ll add shadows. The finishing touch is a bit of coloured splatter which unifies the image and adds a bit more energy.

By preference I’ll scan the finished painting at a fairly high resolution and slightly tweak the image in Photoshop with a soft light filter before posting a lower resolution version  to my ‘Latest Work’ blog.

For Instagram – @kathrynhockey – I just post photos of the work.

Scanning generally gives ‘truer’ colour reproduction and there’s less distortion of the image.

While I was traveling I didn’t have easy access to a scanner so the original ‘Latest Work’ posts of some sketches feature the same Instagrammed photos.

I recently scanned all of the food travel sketches to improve the quality of the images for this blog. I have added links to the original posts.

View from the Castle – Sketch

vejer, castle, castillo, ramparts, view, sketch, vejer sketchers, pen, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, illustration, cadiz, andalusia, spain, church, bell

I made this little pen and watercolour sketch of the view through the castle ramparts at a recent meeting of the Vejer Sketchers.

Corredera 55 – Business Cards

business card, corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

I had a lovely surprise during my recent visit to Vejer (after an absence of several months) – the fabulous people at the delightful Corredera 55 restaurant had updated their business card to include the pen and watercolour sketch I made of the restaurant facade back in 2016 (below).

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

I knew they were planning to change their business card, in fact I prepared the file for the printer some time ago, but seeing the dinky little versions of the original painting sitting there in the restaurant made me smile.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Corredera 55 this summer I can highly recommend the baked sardines with sumac, damascan lemon, black olives and cherry tomatoes; a luscious oily concoction which melts in the mouth and goes down particularly well after the green gazpacho; a pea, mint, avocado and cucumber variation of the traditional Spanish cold summer soup.

Yum.

Annie B’s Food Map

pen, watercolour, water color, drawing, painting, illustration, food, map, andalucia, andalusia, annie b, spanish kitchen, vejer, cadiz, jerez, sherry, cerdo iberico, queso de cabra, goats cheese, iberian pork, retinto, beef, tuna, atun, octopus, pulpo, flamenco, squid, calamari, lemon, limon, anchovies, anchoas, prawns, gambas, atlantic ocean, oceano atlantico, mediterranean sea, mar mediterraneo, solera, spices, vineyard, bodega, chorizo, olive oil, acete de oliva

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.

annie b, spanish kitchen, spanish cooking, andalucia, cooking courses, sherry, jerez, xerez, tours, lemon, pomegrante, orange, peppers, salmonete, red snapper, mussel, octopus, pulpo, pine, christmas, card, chorizo, pimenton, paprika, sketch, watercolour, pen and watercolour, pine cones, umbrella pine, paella pan, card, christmas card, drawing

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.

sketch, layout, illustration, food, map, andalucia, andalusia, annie b, spanish kitchen, vejer, cadiz, jerez, sherry, cerdo iberico, queso de cabra, goats cheese, iberian pork, retinto, beef, tuna, atun, octopus, pulpo, flamenco, squid, calamari, lemon, limon, anchovies, anchoas, prawns, gambas, atlantic ocean, oceano atlantico, mediterranean sea, mar mediterraneo, solera, spices, vineyard, bodega, chorizo, olive oil, acete de oliva

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).

pen, watercolour, water color, drawing, painting, illustration, food, map, andalucia, andalusia, annie b, spanish kitchen, vejer, cadiz, jerez, sherry, cerdo iberico, queso de cabra, goats cheese, iberian pork, retinto, beef, tuna, atun, octopus, pulpo, flamenco, squid, calamari, lemon, limon, anchovies, anchoas, prawns, gambas, atlantic ocean, oceano atlantico, mediterranean sea, mar mediterraneo, solera, spices, vineyard, bodega, chorizo, olive oil, acete de oliva

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! 

Chumbera!

chumbera, prickly pear, cactus, cadiz, vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, andalucia, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, sketchbook, illustration

I’m delighted to have finally found a chumbera (prickly pear) with some lush new growth; the once ubiquitous and beautiful cactus is suffering an infestation of insects and slowly dying out here in Andalusia.

Moi from the gorgeous Ecléctica Deco shop in Vejer suggested that I sketch a chumbera a good while ago; he told me he’d seen a good one in La Breña national park so I set off for a hike on a really hot day search of it…needle in a haystack situation ensued. His next sighting was luckily closer to home and much easier to find.

I missed it in flower but hey-ho…the heart shaped leaf was a bonus…promise it was actually like that! 

View from a Cliff Top

barbate, atlantera, atlantic, ocean, andalusia, cliff, sea, landscape, la brena, national park, morocco, marruecos, blue, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, travel, illustration

This is a tale of a wild goose chase!

Sadly all the prickly pears are in Andalusia are dying because of an infestation of insects but someone told me that there was one still alive on the coastal path which runs through the natural park known locally as La Breña, a pine forrest which covers the area between Barbate, San Ambrosio and Los Caños de Meca in the province of Cádiz.

So I set off to find it and draw it…

It was a needle in a haystack situation!

I did however enjoy the spectacular views from the cliff top and sat up there in a howling wind for an hour or so to sketch this view out over the Atlantic to Atlantera. That´s Morocco in the background.

I have a new tip off for a live prickly pear which is closer to home…fingers crossed!

Corredera 55

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, facadeI was delighted to be commissioned to paint a pen and watercolour sketch style ‘portrait’ of the facade of the beautiful Corredera 55 restaurant in Vejer de la Frontera.

I worked from photos as there was an element of surprise involved in the project.

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, rough sketch, drawing, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

First I roughed out the composition by making a preliminary sketch (right).

The bike is part of the exterior decor!

Then I made a more careful drawing in pencil on 300gsm watercolour paper with deckled (hand torn) edges which I retraced loosely in waterproof pen (below).corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

Next came the watercolour painting…

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

And here’s the finished piece…(click on the image to enlarge)

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

With a couple of details singled out below…

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in Vejer at any time of year the Corredera 55 restaurant is well worth a visit.

The food is a clever and delicious blend of the homely, exotic, luxurious and healthy; the wine list is extensive and expertly composed; the staff are incredibly warm and hospitable while at the same time being efficient and savvy; the outside terrace is sunny, shady and breezy with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside (Vejer’s perched on top of a steep hill, 200m above sea level); the interior is cosy and gorgeously crafted from reclaimed materials (by Retro Nuevo) and houses an extensive collection of Vejer themed paintings by local artists.

As the sign says Comer – Amar – Vivir  =  Eat – Love – Live

This is a delightful place full of loving touches.

 

Autumn Sketches

grape harvest, andalucia, sherry, jerez, bodegas faustino gonzalez, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, pen and watercolour, sketch

 

 

The pen and watercolour sketch to the left was my first of the autumn season, having been invited to see the sherry grape harvest in the the Faustino González vineyard just outside Jerez.

The grape pickers moved too fast for me to capture with my painting hands!

bodeguita, andalucia, vejer de la frontera, arco de la segur, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, pen and watercolour, sketch

 

 

 

The sketch on the right is of one of the old town gates in Vejer de la Frontera, you can see one of my fellow sketchers on the left.

 

 

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The last sketch in this trio is of the Roman aquaduct in the beautiful village of Santa Lucia.

CD Cover: Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads – Somos Más

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Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads are a band of hugely talented and versatile musicians, one of the best on the Spanish rhythm and blues scene.

As well as revisiting classic blues themes and interpreting the music of more recent artists (such as Lloyd Jones, Los Deltonos and Vaughan Brothers), they play their own compositions, offering a rollicking live show to lovers of the blues in all its variations.

CD cover, Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads, Jauja, pen and guache, digital manipulation, illustration, voodoo, Cadiz, blues band, pin up

 

Back in 2012 Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads commissioned me to design the cover for their excellent third album ‘Jauja‘, so I was flattered to be asked to do the same for their latest release ‘Somos Más’ which celebrates their 10th birthday.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, text, title, blues album

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festivalMr Groovy and the Blue Heads are almost constantly on the road, which is what inspired me to suggest a tour bus for the CD cover. There are now several more ‘Blue Heads’ amongst their number, mostly woodwind and brass players, which is why they chose the title ‘Somos Más’ (meaning ‘there are more of us’). It’s also a nod to the growing number of people who are disillusioned by a corrupt political system which creates and perpetuates austerity.

 

The rough sketch above helped me to decide on the layout for the front cover which I then redrew carefully in pencil onto fine grained watercolour paper, followed by water resistant pen (below).

The landscape depicted in the background is typically Andalusian, it’s inspired by the view from my studio.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

I used pencils to colour in a photocopy of the finished pen drawing as a trial and then applied colour to the actual drawing with watercolour paints. It’s a traditional and time consuming method but I love the warmth that hand painted textures impart to an image.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

 

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

 

 

I scanned the finished painting into Photoshop where I added the text, taking the same hand drawn text style for the band name that I had made for the Jauja cover. I also replaced the white border with a black one (below).  mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

And then on to the back cover…which had to be the back of the bus!

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

 

 

The scene in the background is inspired by the bamboo fringed sand dunes of the Atlantic coast where we live, dotted with bright flowering succulents in the spring.

 

 

I worked from my rough sketch (above) in the same way as I had for the front cover, just changing the layout to make space for the track list.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

That’s Mr Groovy playing his harmonica in the back of the bus (below)

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Having scanned the painting into Photoshop I added the text and digitally collaged the CD covers from the band’s three previous albums and the sea and sky which I had painted separately.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads are working non-stop for the imminent release of Somos Más which promises to be a superb mix of swing, funk, blues and second line.

Don’t miss it!