Illustration Friday: Cracked

Illustration Friday: Cracked

A photoshop sketch of one perspective of the debate on book-as-vessel vs book-as-object.

And in related news – look what I found at Pulp Fiction bookstore today!

A cloud in the hand

Illustration Friday: Contagious (with apologies to Molly Brett)

Illustration Friday: Contagious (with apologies to Molly Brett)

ETA: Dagnabbit! I thought I’d scrape in on time – it isn’t even 11pm and the new topic is up!

Some people say the nursery rhyme “ring-a-ring-a-rosies” is about the Black Death, but I think it’s perfectly obvious from the second verse that it’s all about a plague of zombies.

The illustration is a direct homage to and heavily referenced from a number of Molly Brett’s illustrations for Underneath a Mushroom: A Second Joy-Book of Juvenile Verse compiled by John R. Crossland and first published 1934 (given to me by a friend who learned my tastes very quickly, though I note the book is rather heavier on fairies than living dead). The words are hand-lettered, but based on the font in the book.

The picture is dip pen and ink on typing paper, but the background here is a scan from a blank page of Underneath a Mushroom.

Illustration Friday: Breezy

Illustration Friday: Breezy (colour)

An illustration for the fairytale “The Goose Girl”. Curdkin has been tormenting the main character, so she calls out “Wind, wind, blow today, carry Curdkin’s cap away!”, and it does. I had two ideas for this, one for each half of the rhyme, but someone asked me last night whether something I was working on was “one of my girls, looking pensively into the distance”, so I went with Curdkin!

The picture is in scratchboard, with colour and letters added in Photoshop. Here is the black and white version:

Illustration Friday: Breezy (black and white)

The new header image is a close-up from a version of the project (almost finished!) on which I am working.

March blog header

Illustration Friday: Instinct

Illustration Friday: Instinct (1)

Stories about selkies rarely end happily. They’re as bad as Arthurian legends – I almost always know how they are going to end. In that context the picture above (ink pen and wash, adulterated in photoshop) looks more bleak than sassy, although it was the culmination of a series of scribbles of selkies dive-bombing into the water with their seal-skins tied around their necks like kids playing superheroes. Still, I like it and may rearrange it so that it works as a frame or title.

Just so you’re warned, the second picture contains mild fairytale nudity… Continue reading

Illustration Friday: Leap

Leap - colour

This week’s picture was drawn in pen (unipin), scanned and coloured in Photoshop. It is very loosely based on DaVinci’s portrait of a lady with an ermine, and if I’d had the reference around, I might have had fewer problems with the sleeve!

Comments and critique are always welcome.

Leap - black and white

Illustration Friday: Multiple


A chain of paperdolls, seven sisters (the seventh is on the side and back of the canvas), a selection from the 12 dancing princesses, multiple roses, a four-leaf clover, multiple media. The shamrock is for the multiple leaves, and for the music and where two of my names are from, and because March is coming.

I painted the background in acrylic and impasto medium. The green and pink were too candy-nasty so I toned it down with brown and ochre pastel in gell medium. The chain of dancers were cut out of folded paper. I printed out sheet music (“I’ll take you home, Kathleen”) and used gell medium to paste strips across the dancers, then pasted them down on the canvas with more gel medium and trimmed the edges. I decided to keep the last dancer with my pencil sketch, and she is wrapped around to the back. I went over them again with the sepia pastel/medium mix and added colour with the same mix and rubbing pastel on with my finger, which I then coated with fixative before coating the whole canvas with another dose of pastel and gell medium.

The main figure was transferred from a quick sketch (referring to the bathroom mirror) onto white sketch paper and coloured with pastel in gell medium. The yellow top is from the back page of the sheet music, coloured and tortured in photoshop to age it and then treated with fixative (which made the paper a little bit crispy). Shadows were added with pastel, and I painted the details and the shamrock.

The colours are more pastel than I like and the main figure should probably be a little further into the picture. I’m also struggling with getting good colour reproductions on this scanner, so if anyone knows of a good tutorial on adjusting colours in photoshop, I’m all ears – there’s a strong lemon-yellow on that top I can’t quite catch.

As ever, comments and criticism are very welcome!

This model works cheaply:

The yellow blouse

Serendipitous placement of lyrics:

Your heart will feel no pain

Illustration Friday: Tales and Legends

Tales and Legends

This was painted in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook while at Runaway Bay with my family for 2/3 of the Australia Day weekend: the background was stained with a teabag and the figure painted in with very strong instant coffee. The tea is effective. The coffee is… pungent. If you click on the picture and go to the Flickr page, there is a link to the non-photoshopped version.

This picture, which is not-a-portrait-of-my-mother was painted subsequent to finding out the Illustration Friday theme, and was therefore a possible entrant (larger version beyond the link on Flickr):


And this is an illustration for any number of fish stories, made with paint and newspaper and tracing paper (I was feeling very self-sufficient by this stage, particularly as I had no scissors or glue). They may become my April header:

Little Fish

As ever, comments, critiques and advice are very welcome.

Illustration Friday: Plain

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is “Plain”. I did four sketches: cliched, angsty, determined and resigned. The cliche made the cut, and here is Plain Jane. Drop waists rarely suit anyone.

Continue reading

Illustration Friday: Stitch


Here is this week’s Illustration Friday contribution, digitally drawn and coloured. I am still messing about in Photoshop, getting comfortable with it.

The picture is a little gory, but is an illustration of a parlour trick/joke my mother taught me.

Here is another version in a rather different style:


Illustration Friday: 100%

Fear of Success

This week’s theme is “100%”, and the illustration is “Fear of Success”. It isn’t always a good idea to give 100%. Born of reading Neil Fiore and being annoyed with my Collins daily quotation desk calendar (yes, already). Every day I look forward to writing snarky rejoinders to the inspirational quotes in red biro at the bottom of the page.

I drew this on the wacom tablet in photoshop. I am still learning to use both. The brushes came with the program and the texture is from a photo I took of paint and water draining across a footpath.