Sunday, 31 January 2016

Thoughts on Hummingbirds - My Digital Sketchbook

A few months ago I finally picked up a paintbrush and started getting creative again. At first I was scared, it had been so long and I was unsure where to start. What was going to be my subject matter? 

Living in London there is so much to be inspired by. I visited the National Gallery and didn't even make it past the gift shop. It was filled with treasures. The most beautiful Christmas tree ornaments I'd ever seen. Glass, feathers, plastic, unique. I was truly taken up these hummingbird pieces. 

During my A Levels I always felt draw towards feathers. I marvelled over how delicate they are yet they are the very things that make flight possible. They can be represented in so many ways and in the past I have experimented with a bejewelled colour pallet (similar to the geometric bird above) of rich blues and greens. I decided to once again bring feathers into my work and began researching hummingbirds further. Which each new project I first study my choose subject matter with a bunch of sketches, working on the scale, positioning and textures. Trying to replicate what it actually looks like to give myself a deepen understanding to later rework the matter into my own creation. 

After a series of sketches drawing from secondary source images found online I visited the Natural History Museum and was so excited to find a case full of preserved hummingbirds!!! Containing over 200 species the display case was created in the 1700s to demonstrate their beauty, bright colours and wide range which most people where unaware of at that time. 

So far I had found the tail to be the most difficult part and was amazed to learn that not all hummingbirds have the same tail structure. My favourite became the racket tail, two very simple lines curving parallel to one another creating negative space. That would become my focal point. 

Watercolours became my main choice of median as it was so quick to use and didn't make much mess, meaning I could easily work sat on my bed. This was my first real experience using watercolours, I had tried it a bit at school but found it incredibly difficult. This time I decided to try it in my own way and not imitate the watery, pastel effects of others and so far it's worked out well. Although I worry that I might be using them 'incorrectly' if there is such a thing. 

 Oil paints have always been my favourite and honestly I was worried to use them again as it had been such a long time. I love the fluid and rich texture they create. Some of my happiest days were spent in the ceramics studio during Sixth Form, stood, working at an easel painting with oils. I can remember so much of that whole experience. I would always listen to BBC radio one, usually on my own as it was my free periods, the cold floor through my socks as I always sneakily slipped my dolly shoes off (I was alone after all) and the strong scent of oil paints, white spirit and turpentine.    

I created small (A5) watercolour pieces depicting single hummingbirds, usually from the side. Comparing simple tonal work with small brushstrokes building up coloured texture and use of white space on the bird. The eye posed a problem. Drawing on anime/manga influences I wanted the glossy/white light bubble effect. The eye was to give character to my little bird. He became almost Egyptian. I fell in love with my little Golden Bird. No longer was I attempting to recreate real hummingbirds but create my own species of bird. 

His tail was so simple and effective, I began to imagine him sat on a branch or holding a twig. It seemed important for him to be captured in flight. My work doesn't demonstrate the true rapid movement of a hummingbird in any sense, but it gives an almost impossible sense of still flight. 

I wanted to resist looking at how other artists had depicted hummingbirds but somehow came across this piece on pinterest by Beth-Emily Gregory and felt incredibly inspired. I created the piece below as a response; entitled Umbrella Tail. 

Having always worked on a much larger scale I bit the bullet and bought a few larger canvas boards to work on. Including three small boards for a mini series, of which I've painted one small  rather messy hummingbird with oil paints in bejewelled colours. 

Then I used one of the larger boards and it's still a work in progress piece however I wanted to share it. Most works in this series lack background depth so I decided to make this one incredibly dark. After a quick draft I planned out the composition of the wings, sketched it on the canvas board and outlined with a white pen bought especially from the London Graphic Centre. I loved the basic sketched element of the body and dramatic tail, taking all focus but subtly remaining a hummingbird.

For this piece I used oil paints. The tail continued to take inspiration from the work of Beth-Emily Gregory and The Chase's project for the Garden Lighting Company. It developed a natural and earthy feel, like a flower drooped upside down with each section of colour resembling a soft petal.  

This piece is still in progress and I'll be posting further developments to the series on the blog soon. In the meantime you can check out some of my older pieces on my new online portfolio!! 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

James Turrell's Skyspaces \\ Curated

*This is the first of a new series on the blog called Curated where I will be discussing my favourite artists.

Where other artists use paint, canvas or any other physical object to create their work James Turrell uses light. I fell in love with his Skyspaces series as soon as I discovered them.

Almost sculptures these pieces are 'buildings' in themselves or created in the ceiling. It is essentially a window of light. A viewing space where you truly appreciate the world and the magnificent art piece that God has created. Turell harnesses light in so many ways. I imagine it would be breathtaking to sit and stand under one of these. I absolutely love his work and these are my favourite due to the purity and simply essence that they contain. It is meant to be a disservice to call art work beautiful because art should be so much more than aesthetic, but I believe not only is Turrell a genius but this delivery is beautiful beyond words. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

2016 Diary | Kikki K Purchase

Before Christmas Tasha introduced me to Kikki K, a beautiful Swedish stationary store who have just opened their first store in the UK! In Covent Garden literally around the corner from each other you can find their pop up shop right on the courtyard and their new permanent store on a side street. It. Is. Wonderful!! Everything looks like it should be on pinterest. The store has fake office set ups that look like dreamy home offices, they sell rose gold clocks (for £25 mind you), those iconic Swedish wooden horse, and even fake instant snow! 

As I browsed their aesthetically appealing notebooks, pens, life and home organisers it became clear that the creators of these brand are promoting a philosophy and not just stationary. They have notebooks for mindfulness, looking after yourself, recording dreams and positive/uplifting quotes. Design was clearly a well considered element of this brand. While my final diary purchase is very cutesy, they also stock minimal designs and workplace considered organisers, handbags and a few leather iPad cases that are incredibly elegant. 

They are on the more expensive side for stationary so I spent a few weeks debating over which diary to buy. I haven't had a diary for the past six months because I couldn't find one I liked enough and I have found it stressful and now I've started a new internship and continuing my waitressing job I really wanted to better organise my week. I've been genuinely so excited about this purchase. I was more drawn to the covers of the leather diaries but I just didn't like page layouts and as that was the part i'll be using I decided to look further. I browsed online and checked both of their stores twice. I eventually decided on this diary from their sweet range for a few reasons. 

Illustrations - I loved this touch. They add a lot of character and will add cheer to my day. Between each month there is a double page spread devoted purely to illustrations about that upcoming month. At the back of the diary there are illustrated stickers including words like PAYDAY which will be so helpful rather than having to write out the same things every month.  

Size - I need my diaries to be small enough to fit in any bag and not weigh it down. The covers need to support themselves so I can easily write in it without needing to find a surface to lean on. The one I bought is A6 but they do a range for most designs. 

Layout - I like having my weeks displayed on a double page spread with blank section for each day. Some diaries have timesheets for each day but I imagine that would only work if you had a crazy schedule and enough time to write so much detail for each day. I like to include random notes to myself and vary the size of my handwriting (and include little doodles). 

In their pop up store sales assistants will approach you asking whether you want to become a member (it's free) this basically means you get sent their email newsletter, special offers and get invited to exclusive events. It's as easy as giving your email address, name and birthday. Sadly when I first signed up it didn't work for whatever reason. When I bought this diary the sales assistant asked if I wanted to join, I briefly mentioned the above and he took a genuine interest and offered me a free pen to compensate. He went on to take the time to very carefully add me into the system and check everything back with me. I was so pleasantly surprised! I wasn't planning on even mentioning it, although I was sad to have missed out on the £5 off voucher and he offered amazing customer service. The pen writes amazingly too! 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Festive Snaps 2015

I love taking photos, especially family pictures at Christmas time! You know when we have kids in the future I'll be one of those mums getting artsy instagram shots of her kids constantly!! Some photos are to precious to share with the internet but I wanted to record  some of my favourite snaps that I was able to capture this holiday season. From homemade mince pies to countryside walks, Crystal doing my nails, sister selfies and the incredible fire place that warms our family home in the freezing Peak District. Although I'm shocked by how mild this winter has been so far! It's only just starting to get freezing here in London. I hope that you've all had an incredible holiday season and feel energised to take on these next few winter months. x

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

What I Got For Christmas 2015

It's not often I do posts like this but with beautiful photos and my sister's gorgeous IKEA bedsheets it seems a shame not to. I had such a wonderful Christmas season in both England's Peak District and in a little northern village with family. It was our first Christmas as a married couple and it meant so much just to unwind and be around so much love. While I love the energy and atmosphere of London, it's refreshing to revisit quaint little English villages. 

I was showered with pastel themed gifts and chocolate. My parents created a beautiful gift package with the Ted Baker wrapping above and filled it with both Ted Baker and Soap & Glory toiletries. Things I never splash out on myself but always longingly gaze at in Boots. It was so thoughtful and the packaging to die for. Untie the bow, lift up the 'lid' then see it untwist like a Christmas cracker and reveal an opening! Only to be resealed/packaged with ease. It's currently sitting on my bedroom window empty because I can't bear to throw it away. 

Perfume is also a little indulgence that I have only just started discovering, but I find I'm so particular!! Last birthday I got a Jimmy Choo Blossom fragrance and it took me over half an hour smelling different scents until I decided on that one. Just off Oxford Street I was introduced to a brand called Love and Other Stories (a branch of H&M) and fell in love with it's store aesthetics, products and soooo many of their perfumes. I couldn't believe how many I liked! And for Christmas my wonderful husband surprised me with one of them; Punk Bouquet (Frothy vanilla soda on a rebellious bed of roses). All of their body/beauty range looks incredible and this scent is my current favourite. The packaging again is beautiful and the description so funny and entertaining. 

Other wonderful gifts include Rose Gold headphones, Mother of Pearl earnings, an insane scarf that turns into a blanket and has made all my warm dreams come true! Seriously. I'm obsessed with it. Personalised Christmas/home ornaments, Lush's Snow Fairy shower gel and even more chocolate!! Sadly I wasn't able to include everything due to timing and lighting but I am so grateful for everything I received this season and even more so for friends, family and all the opportunities and life discovery we experience. Life can be rough but I'm so blessed and grateful. Looks like this New Year I'll be smelling like rebellious roses and frothy vanilla, forever wrapped in a blanket scarf and eating chocolate all while being surrounded with love!! #soppy  
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