Here are a couple of pen and wash sketches I made in a beautiful Essex country garden this summer, with the bees humming in and about the lavender.
Back at the start of the first Covid lockdown in spring 2020 we were delighted and grateful to secure weekly fresh fruit and veg delivery from The Limes. It’s a lovely, local, family business in Burnham on Crouch.
Our closest supermarket is also in Burnham, and on my way there and back I’d pass The Limes, see their sign (perfectly functional but a bit rough and ready) and daydream about painting them a new one. Painting food is one of my passions afterall.
I made a Photoshop mockup incorporating some of the fruit and veg drawings from my sketchbooks and sent it to them with my proposal. They were really enthusiastic, suggested a couple of design changes which led to the final version below.
I got a full size (110 x 125 cm) copy printed in black and white and used it to trace the design onto both sides of the board after they had had a couple of coats of exterior gloss paint. Important to remember to flip the arrow on side two!
I worked from the bottom up, turning the board over after each section had dried to paint both sides to the same stage. I didn’t fancy completing one side then having to start from scratch on side two. Below – my supervisor does his quality control check.
I used One Shot sign painters’ enamel for the text and decorative parts. It’s a durable, high quality paint with a lovely, creamy consistency.
It’s also expensive, so I limited my order to six colours: white, lettering black, medium green, reflex blue, fire red and primrose yellow. I planned to mix all the shades I needed from them. You can see a colour chart I mixed using the red and yellow below.
My limited palette of colours worked perfectly until I got to the cherries. I just couldn’t get the shade I was after by mixing the fire red with reflex blue so I had to order a pot of kool [sic] crimson.
I worked slowly and steadily, averaging a couple of hours a day over three happy months. I enjoyed painting this sign so much and I hope that it shows in the finished product.
The good folks at The Limes are very happy. I’ll add some photos of the sign in situ once it’s been installed. In the meantime here’s my supervisor taking a well earned rest.
After many years admiring other people’s summer hollyhock displays I finally managed to grow some from seed this year. My Mum loves hollyhocks too, she had collected the seeds from some beautiful plants that were growing out of the concrete at the edge of a car park in town. I think the fact that such delicate but exuberant loveliness can thrive on apparently nothing adds to the wonder of the hollyhock. The name is also a bonus for a Hockey!
I noticed recently that my Mum’s bookmark had been well used into tattiness so I painted her a new hollyhock bookmark for her birthday.
Water resistant pen, watercolour paint, 300gsm watercolour paper.
Inspired by the deliciously beautiful photos on the Instagram feed of Mrs Salisbury’s Tea Room and Restaurant I decided to make an illustration. I do love to paint food…
…I also love to eat cake but alas I’ve still not had the chance to sample Mrs Salisbury’s delights – if they’re half as tasty as the look they’ll be well worth the wait. I can’t remember the last time I had a vol-au-vent.The home of Mrs Salisbury’s is a delightfully pink house on the corner of Bright’s Path and Maldon High Street and the stairs up from their front door are tiled in this lovely black and white pattern, so I wanted to incorporate that into the border design.
Catching the full moon, as it rises bulbous on a clear night is most uplifting.
It’s so large when it’s low that I can almost feel the weight of its pull. Being made of mostly water I probably can feel that pull…
This is the view over our neighbours’ garden through the evergreen border bushes, and while the pylon may not be conventionally beautiful there’s drama in the contrast of its strict geometry behind the softer silhouette of the branches.
Winter certainly has its consolations.
It’s easy to make excuses not to sketch: my shoulder hurts, the weather’s too hot, the weather’s too cold, too wet, too windy, it’s winter – I’m uninspired, there’s nothing to see…
Then I started to pay attention to how beautiful the sky can be as the winter sun sets behind skeletal trees. Its position slightly shifting everyday so that eventually it’s setting over the road and visible from my bedroom window, which has a radiator under it.
So with no discomfort excuses I succumbed to the urge to try and capture this lovely view. I drew the trees in water resistant pen at a leisurely pace and left my sketchbook on the windowsill with my brushes, a jar of water and my paint box so that the next time the sunset was dramatic I could quickly paint the watercolour wash over the top.
I repainted this version so that I could sell the painting without disfiguring my sketchbook and it’s now my plan to redraw the trees in preparation for a new attempt next time there’s drama in the sky.
A friend asked me to make another of these little coffee pot candle illustrations which I first produced back in 2014. It’s a fun technique: first drawing in charcoal, then painting with acrylic but the crackle glaze proved to be a bit tricky this time and took a few goes to get right. I rubbed white oil paint and beeswax on top of the glaze once I was happy with the cracks and finally a smear of glitter gel for the festive finish.
During lockdown I sewed some coordinated dress and mask combos; loose cotton shift dresses to accommodate the inevitable weight gain paired with covid ready face coverings.
The fabrics are my own designs which I get printed to order in the UK by Woven Monkey.
These combos went down particularly well with shop checkout people, bless them, who were pretty much my only outside contacts. One chap in Waitrose complimented my outfit then looked down at his stripy shirt and said “Oh, I’m going to get a mask made to match it!” I really hope he did…
This certainly made dressing for social distancing a bit more fun.