Its been a very long time since I last updated this blog (I’ve been more active on instagram over the last year) but I’ve been wanting to revive the blog for a while- now that postgrad study is complete, I thought I’d give it another go!
So… the last year has been a pretty busy one (hence no posting). Here’s an update on some of the projects I had the opportunity to work on:
Last year was spent studying hard to get postgrad qualifications in illustration, specifically medical illustration. What an amazing year- it was a huge learning curve, but at the same time, it went super fast. I was lucky enough to work in the Design for Health and Wellbeing Lab (a design for health studio based in Auckland City Hospital) to carry out my illustration honours project. Here is a post about my research project (and in more detail here).
I might do a more in depth post about my research and some of the interesting things that came out of it at some point.
Alongside studying, I was lucky enough to work on a really fun illustration project with entomologist Leilani Walker, illustrating 52 native New Zealand insects (and designing packaging) for the Insects of New Zealand Playing Cards. You can read more about the process for making these illustrations here. It was such an awesome project to be involved in, (probably the biggest and longest lasting illustration collaborations I have worked on) and the support for the cards now they have been released into the wild has been great- in fact, we have just released the second edition last month!
Since I completed my studies I have been transitioning into freelance illustration work. While I had been doing freelance projects for the last couple of years, treating it as a serious full-time business and actually calling myself an ‘illustrator’ has been a big step. Lots more learning and developing processes of working (and administration!), plus a newly designed website, which you can see here, and a sparkly new Etsy store too!
Both still a work in progress. I’ll start posting more about some of the projects I HAVE worked on soon. Next time, back into regular posting with something (hopefully) a bit more interesting 🙂
If there’s anyone out there reading this, thanks if you are still following this blog- I appreciate it!
Equipment used: inked with a Hunt dip pen and detailed with Rapidograph isograph pens + Pigma micron.
I thought it might be quite a fun and useful educational resource , as I don’t think the species of seals we have in New Zealand is very well known to the majority of people (myself included before doing this little project).
On my recent trip up north to Russell, we made a stop along the way at Waipu, where they were having an antiques show. They had all sorts of fascinating things- old books, fountain pens, sewing machines, vintage postcards… but what caught my eye were these vintage Air New Zealand menus, because of the beautiful bird illustrations on the covers. I bought a couple for a few dollars each, and have framed them (in some repurposed frames from the op shop). It turns out the illustrations were done by NZ artist Bruce Harvey (one of the best known NZ artists of birds), between the years 1976-79.
I have heard that the North Island Weka is more endangered than the Kiwi- so a pretty special thing to see in real life!
I used a limited palette (the majority of the bird is just painted with ultramarine blue+ burnt sienna- my favourite combo!) and tried out some new-to-me watercolour paper- plain hotpress Fabriano paper (the paper itself didn’t have a name) which was pretty good but hard to remove mistakes without ruining the paper, which I guess is to be expected from a cheaper paper!
I also just wanted to mention an interesting interview I listened to on the weekend by Nick Patton (from the Picturebooking podcast), who interviewed Katherine Roy– an illustrator of kids natural history picture books. Its a really interesting listen for anyone who is interested in the intersection of science, art and childrens books. Check it out here.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember the short film I “drew” for my sisters university assignment, just over a year ago. This small project made me realise the huge number of possibilities and ideas that could be brought to life through combining illustration, film and animation. Stop motion animation is something I’m really interested in, and I had the idea to perhaps do some biology and conservation based short animations, but hadn’t gotten around to doing anything yet.
Then earlier this year, I saw an advertisement for the Outlook for Someday film competition, which is to encourage film making specifically regarding sustainability, for young people. I thought it would the perfect competition to enter (and my last opportunity- next year I will be too old!) as it combined film (stop-motion animation in my case) with conservation. So I made a short stop-motion animated film on the subject of ecology and sustainability, using coloured paper cut-outs and live action drawing, and entered it. I found out a few weeks ago that my film was selected for the Department of Conservation Big Picture Award- and we got to attend the amazing awards ceremony last week.
Here is the film- I called it Nature’s Ghosts because it is about the huge loss of species the earth is currently experiencing as a result of mans’ influence. It was created using a borrowed ipad and a basic stop motion app, then edited using Photoshop CS5 and Corel Video Studio, and my sister kindly did the voice-over (recorded on the ipad using garageband).
The other films in the competition were amazing, a combination of animated films and real-life documentaries, and it was great to meet the other film makers on the night. You can check out the other films here. The overall winning film was this documentary ‘To the Rescue’ by Mason Cade Packer– an amazing film about food wastage and the charities that work to ‘rescue’ food and bring it to the people that need it.
I can’t wait to make some more biology/conservation animations. There are definitely things I would like to improve on next time and I am hoping to write up some more short films to animate in the new year. Thank you very much to the Outlook for Someday team that created such an awesome event and competition. If you or someone you know is into film and is under 24 years old, encourage them to enter next year– its an awesome thing to get involved in!
I’ll be back later this week with some more posts and am hoping to do a blog giveaway before Christmas gets here!
or perhaps I should have called it ‘the mock-up poster’ because this was sort of a quickly put together version of my puriri moth lifecycle for a portfolio submission. I’d like to add to it by doing a fully painted background at some point and adding in text of course.
the tree+backgrounds to the various larval stages are watercolour+coloured pencil, the insects themselves are coloured pencil only.
Its Puriri Moth season again in NZ- I’ve only seen one this year though- much less than last year!
Today I’m posting a painting I finished last week of baby saltwater crocodiles hatching from their nest. It was inspired by a story on the saltwater crocodiles life cycle that I read- and I left the upper corner empty to suggest a space for text in a book spread.
Mediums used: W&N cotman watercolours and Pebeo Gouache (covering white) for highlights.
I tried out splattering the background with watercolour to get a dirt-like effect and after I was done realised that I’d splattered tiny paint drops all over my walls…oops. Lucky it was an easy clean up!
Don’t forget- you have until Monday 5pm (NZ time- Midnight Sunday EST) to enter the skillshare giveaway for 1 months premium membership! There are only 2 entries so far so you’re chances of winning are high if you enter 🙂 The classes are really awesome- lots of new ones have recently been added including Vintage Hand lettering by Mary Kate McDevitt and Drawing Daily Monsters by Stefan G. Bucher- which I am really keen to do. Get your entries in!!
Today I am running this blog’s first giveaway- its for a service I really enjoy using myself and can’t wait to tell you more about it- read to the end to find out more!!
I am quite a fan of skillshare– I’ve referenced it a couple of times on the blog- and have done a few classes through the website. I think its a really useful and affordable way to learn from the pros in various creative areas. Recently I did a new class by Christine Fleming called “Scientific Illustration- conveying information with charm“. I wasn’t entirely sure what the class would be about, but lets just say I was in as soon as I read “scientific illustration”!!
This class teaches you to distill information from scientific fact into fun and educational illustrations. If you check out BuzzHootRoar (which “is a graphics-driven blog that shares and/or explains a scientific concept in 300 words or less”– for which Christine is the resident illustrator) you should get a feel for the sort of style/approach of the class. I found the class really fun and it opened up some options of combining traditional and digital tools that I hadn’t really considered. I also really enjoyed the short lecture on colour theory- which is an area that I really need to learn more about. As part of the class there was a challenge to create an illustration to celebrate National Wildlife Day. I thought it would be cool to illustrate the some of the most endangered species worldwide. I made a selection of ten of the most endangered species- making sure to include at least one NZ species (hint: kakapo!).
I decided to ink the final illustration using my kuretake brush pen, and then colour it digitally in Photoshop.
last week I finished up a series of paintings of the Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus miles) – which is a relatively common bird species where I live in Auckland. Last year I did a small painting of a Spur winged Plover chick, and thought I would add to it by painting an adult and an egg.
All were painted in acrylic using a sort of watercolour wash method:
the adult- with distinctive yellow wattles
and the egg!
Interestingly this species is one of only 2 NZ native bird species that have no legal protection – it was removed in 2010 after so many public complaints about the species as a nuisance bird (mainly due to crop damage and “interactions” with aircraft).
I am planning on compiling these illustrations- together with some small habitat drawings I also have just finished- into a small poster showing the life stages and common habitats of this species (such as roadsides, airports and sports-fields), and the ways in which this species is threatened by people because of the proximity it lives to us.
BLOG update: If you’re a regular reader you may have noticed a couple of small changes to my site. I have updated the Useful Resources page- it now has more of a visual overview of the books I recommend. If you have a goodreads account, you can add them to your own reading list by clicking on the books image. I have also removed my portfolio page and the link above now directs you straight to my official portfolio site. Also new is the Categories drop-down list in the right side bar (under the about info), so if you are looking for posts on a certain subject hopefully that makes things easier to find! I am hoping to do a full blog re-design at the end of the year so stay tuned for some bigger changes in a few months time.
This month I wanted to highlight a beautifully illustrated identification guide to primates. Primates of the World: an illustrated guide by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes was published on 2010 in French, but has just been translated and published by Princeton University Press last year.
The primate illustrations in this guide, by french wildlife artist Francois Desbordes, are absolutely phenomenal- and I recommend checking out this book for them alone. There are 72 realistically rendered watercolour plates, as well as a number of looser watercolour sketches in the introductory section entitles ‘Fascinating Primates’- including a very colourful evolutionary tree diagram.
I have read other reviews that say some of the scientific information is slightly out of date now (that’s how fast species phenology can change) but it is a comprehensive guide of the major primate species of the world, sorted by continent.
What I really liked about Mr Desbordes illustrations is that they not only show the animals morphology but also give some clue to the postures and behaviour of the different species. I couldn’t find much information about the illustrator however it appears he has illustrated a number of books about wildlife in French.
I highly recommend taking a look at this book- its a masterpiece.
blog update: you may have noticed a new link in the right-side bar- best of drawing escape. I’ve made a collection of the most popular posts from the drawing escape archives- you can check them out here!