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.

bidi, beedi, leaf cigarette, indian cigarette, bundi, rajasthan, india, travel illustration, illustration, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, collage, packaging

Little sketchbook homage to the humble bidi (or beedi) a cheap but tasty India 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.

Springtime – Window Painting

bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, save the children, ethical fashion, volunteer, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bluebirds, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london, donate, reuse, recycleTo herald the arrival of springtime the good folk at Mary’s Living & Giving Shop in Bermondsey Street (where I work as a volunteer for a few hours each week) invited me to design and execute an illustration for their window.

What a lovely project – and right up my street!

I decided on a flowers, birds and bees theme in a loose art nouveau style and made a sketch to scale.bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, sketch, design

Before embarking on the window I had a little practise with the chalk pens on a small sheet of glass and assigned colours to the different elements of the drawing….

bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, sketch, design

…while Kerry kindly cleaned the window in preparation for the obligatory ‘before’ photo.

bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london

(You can just see my  two remaining  ‘Pre-Loved Fashion’ drawings hanging up there behind the manequins.)artist at work, kathryn hockey, artist, illustrator, bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london

artist at work, kathryn hockey, artist, illustrator, bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london

 

 

                 Artist at work!

 

 

 

Here are a few photos of the completed drawing, which took a couple of sessions to finish…bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, save the children, ethical fashion, volunteer, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bluebirds, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london, donate, reuse, recycle bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, save the children, ethical fashion, volunteer, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bluebirds, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london, donate, reuse, recycle bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, save the children, ethical fashion, volunteer, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bluebirds, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london, donate, reuse, recycle…needless to say the ‘here comes the sun’ caption is more of a wish than an observation during springtime in Britain! 

I really had so much fun with this project and am so grateful to the Mary’s Living & Giving team for trusting me with it – thank you!

bermondsey street, marys living and giving shop, save the children, ethical fashion, volunteer, window, design, springtime, birds, swallows, bluebirds, bees, flowers, here comes the sun, illustration, glass, chalk, pens, drawing, design, london, donate, reuse, recyclePost script

As well as being right up my street this project is also a trip down memory lane (pun central…sorry!). About 20 years ago I did some window painting at The Honest Cabbage Restaurant, 99-101 Bermondsey Street (below left)

honest goose, restaurant, window painting, bermondsey street, london, illustration, decoration

honest cabbage, restaurant, window painting, bermondsey street, london, illustration, decoration

and her sister restaurant The Honest Goose on The Cut in Waterloo (above).

 

The Cabbage has since been converted to The Garrison Public House – my artwork didn’t survive but that tends to be the way with mural art unless you’re Banksy.

Peas!

vegetable, food, drawing, water colour, sketch, pen and watercolour, peas, peas in a pod, springtime, green

Peas! Yum…nuff said, spring is in the air…

Springtime Vejer

vejer de la frontera, springtime, vejer sketchers, pen and watercolour, sketch, watercolor

It was lovely to get out in the spring sunshine this Saturday morning with the Vejer Sketchers and capture this view of Vejer in pen and watercolour.

Tricky angle, hence the slanted sketchbook!