Sunday, September 23, 2018

Return of the Vampire Showgirls!

Irmalene the Vampire Showgirl (and her fellow chorus line) have been on a prolonged Hiatus thanks to my Printers stubborn refusal to print out onto quality art paper or card. It meant that my etsy shop had nothing in it for a long time and was also closed for a while. The paper dolls are fun for me to make and also keep a presence on etsy in the long, long months when I am not able to work on physical dolls, so that was quite a blow.

I decided to prepare the artwork for download and so needed to simplify the doll outlines, as I used to hand cut them all myself with a scalpel. So as I was reworking them I also changed the colours and tweaked some details. Here is Irmalene #2, all ready and waiting to be downloaded and assembled in my etsy shop.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Halloween around the corner

The days are tumbling by toward Winter now at an alarming rate. Yet I look at the calendar in disbelief - it's as if someone tilted the box of my year slightly and now we are sliding back down the snowy end with not much to cling on to. It's oddly warm and humid all day until the early evening chill when the sun goes down prompts me to turn on the central heating.... only to lead to panicky window openings and midnight standing in the garden to "cool down" later on! My bedroom is too warm for sleep and yet a chill breeze through the wide open window always finds my right hip before the dawn chases it away again. My hip - never felt that creakiness in my hip before. I'm sliding toward Winter in more ways than one.

The imagined "Time to create" never materialised over Spring and Summer and so Halloween is almost upon us and I have little new to put in my etsy shop. Searching through my old Paper dolls I decided to recolour them, tweak them and make them available again as downloads and "Ludmilla & the Raven" is the fist to be finished... hope you like her :o)

Friday, August 31, 2018


Here is another portrait I have managed to finish. I am finding that another great advantage of "painting" these mainly in photoshop is that it fits in much better with the stop/start nature of my freelance work. With an actual watercolour on paper you need to work fast while the paint is still maleable - not always an option - and when I work in chalk pastel over the top it makes dust everywhere, which isn't great when my computer is in the same room. Plus, in this case, when I changed my mind about the large flat faded edge background, I was able to drop in this scanned paper doily frame and work it into the background as though it had always been there by simply putting it into the layer BEHIND the girl. This is Mali :o)

I'm still experimenting with different textures and thicknesses of art paper to see which gives me the most consistent quality of print out, and then I can work out the pricing and start taking commissions.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


The moth frivolity has served it's purpose to loosen me up and shoo away the ghosts of self doubt. It's a strange thing, but once you make a start, doesn't really matter what it is that you produce, you get engrossed and somehow all the clutter in your head goes away and it becomes about the work and you are happy again.

I have didn't have much freelance work on Friday, so worked on a portrait of a friend's son. It started out as a watercolour/gouache painting and then I drew over it in chalk pastels but didn't love the background or the way I'd done his hair... so scanned it into the Mac and replaced them and generally messed around until I was happy.  The end result looks to be a hybrid between a watercolour and a linocut or screen print! His mother is also happy, I was relieved to know!

It got me thinking, because this portrait is not fully painted in the "real world", the finished image will need to be a high quality single print out instead of a painting. I am wondering if I could offer a commission service where I do them this way, because I can change the background colour and some other details until the client is happy, they buy the single print out of the end result, but I could also email them the digital file so that they could use the portrait to make their own greetings cards or a T Shirt for a doting Nana.... what do you think?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Still experimenting...

Moth  number 2 went off in several different directions as I wondered if Gouache was even the right approach......went for a wash background but then it took attention away from 'Merv' himself and it was difficult to read the text, so wound up doing a flat Gouache colour over the top (but not completely opaque, so some of the dried wash texture showed through) and the lettering is now a font applied in the Mac... still playing :o)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

but the joy of computers is...

My Mac definitely has it's uses. The Amazon delivery guy brought the eagerly awaited gouache and so I got to work on the first moth. I had a vague idea in my head of how I wanted it to look but I needed the moth to be speaking (naturally!) so I went and painted in some speech bubbles.... they looked off in white so I painted them a plum colour, thinking I would do the text in white instead.... that looked really rubbish.... but as it's so hot, the colour I had mixed for the background was now completely dried up! Rather than try to mix the exact same colour again I decided to fix things in the computer instead.

I scanned in the little painting at high resolution, and adjusted the text at the bottom to straighten it up, then I set about removing the speech bubbles. I think it looks a lot better now and I have a model for the other moths in the series :o)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


for Gouache rather than Godot.

I finally got in the swing of creativity in my wonderfully tidy and rearranged art space... it was a little too organised for a mind so used to working in chaos.... it seemed such a shame to mess it up to begin with - but then the search for the Mystery Moth brought that overwhelming wave of ideas that always find their way onto paper.

I looked around after finishing the preliminary sketches for 3 little moth paintings... everything has a place and everything, including my huge stash of gouache paints, was in it's place...yay!!! Hhhmmmmm, as a working illustrator back in the 1980's (yes, imagine that!) I used to quickly rattle off brightly coloured "spot illustration" for magazines like Just Seventeen and others for a few years, all brightly, solidly coloured in lovely creamy Gouache.... my moths were calling out for the same treatment...and I was so excited to be returning to something so familiar that I had been forced to abandon when computers completely turned magazine production on it's head. For a while in the early 90's an illustrator couldn't get arrested, and so I learned to use a Mac and kept myself busy with design work.... and when illustration became the rage again it needed to be done completely on the computer so that art directors could order you to change the position and placement of every detail at whim.

Drawing on a computer is something you can pick up quite quickly but back then scanners were quite iffy and there weren't any wacom pens for a while either. I picked up how to draw with Bezier curves and then fill in the shapes... precise, mechanical and not great for your posture. It kind of sucked a lot of the joy out of creating images for me. Yes the end results looked fine, and you could change everything at will, incorporating photographic textures and vintage imagery to spice things up.... but something was lost in the process, the fun.

I missed sitting there with my right arm cartwheeling around several times before each new sketching session, dipping my paint brush in my tea, cats jumping up on my angled drawing board and knocking everything to the floor, dancing around to the radio and suddenly seeing what I was painting in a new light.... I miss accidents, happy, happy accidents. Drawing and painting is as much a physical occupation as it is a creative one. You need to keep your upper body quite loose and supple... and I miss all of that.

So, here is the big tin box of Gouache, I take off the lid and look at those little tubes of wonder, some squished from use with the caps on wonky, little darlings, little friends... little long abandoned friends, little dried out corpses! So the 3 little moth prep sketches hang on the wall, waiting patiently for the kiss of gouache to bring them to life. I just wait for the Amazon delivery guy...