Tag Archive for: #DrawingAugust

When I was invited to take part in this artists’ blog hop I thought what a great way of sharing ideas and building new links to other artists. You write briefly about the the person who invited you, answer some set questions and then introduce three other artists to pass the baton on to.

I first met the lovely Julia Elmore through an online challenge and was immediately struck by her seemily calm and gentle approach to creativity – so different to my usual frenetic ways! She has a broad way of encouraging creativity in your everyday life. I took part in her 21 Days of Creative Freedom course earlier in the year and enjoyed it as a way to get me over a creative hurdle as well as to feel part of a supportive group. You can read her blog-hop post here and explore her ideas.

Now ready for the Q&A….

How does my creative process work?

Sketchbook ideas that haven’t yet translated into anything else

I’m still not sure I know the answer to that one! I usually start by collecting. Sometimes objects or found printed material, but often using the camera on my phone as it’s always as hand. Using the viewfinder to compose and re-crop allows me to play with different compositions. Often it’s colours or textures that catch my eye. These become starting points for drawings; the fact that the screen goes dead after a short period of time is helpful as you have to hold the image in your head. It helps me concentrate on the key elements I want to incorporate. I also use collage as a starting point and often do larger drawings or paintings and then use a view finder to cut them up and create smaller compositions as starting points.

Usually I start working on a piece with some kind of plan but once I get going that usually goes out of the window. It’s this balance between control and allowing myself to react to what happens spontaneously that excites me. It’s a balance that is easier in painting but that I still find hard in printmaking where you can be so driven by following a process.

Tube drawings

Tube drawings

I draw in a small sketchbook too; usually I draw things that will never translate into any finished work (people on the tube or at cafes) but the practise keeps me on my toes and stops me being scared of the blank page. Sometimes the tiniest sketch of an idea grows into something you never expect – and you never know which one that will be!


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My background and training is in graphic design and I think this comes through. Working out a composition has similar principles to designing a satisfying page layout. Design tends to be neat and tidy and I like to push against this with the more gestural marks as a contrast to some tight and precise marks – I have used printed elements such as the lines in dress making patterns as part of my paintings.

Let’s Go This Way

I’m also still drawn to letterforms and graphic shapes so these often appear. My most recent set of prints started by noticing the stonemason marks in the pavement – a personal mark hidden in an urban landscape.

Etching with chine collé

What am I working on now?

I’m gearing up to do some large scale paintings. I love making prints but I’m yearning to do some work that’s more instinctive, bigger and with colour! These will be landscape in the broadest sense – a reaction to where we are. I visit Dartmoor often and find the space there enormously invigorating but I have no desire to make representative images of it. I’ve lived my whole life in London and find living here inspiring too. Perhaps I will find a way to combine both?

Even though I’m desperate for colour I’m going to start with some big black and white drawings, using ink and charcoal. I find working at a large size helps keep the marks gestural.

Why do you do what you do?

Being able to bring something into existence is magical. I love making things; transforming furniture, inventing and making costumes, changing things at home. But these things are just part of life. Making art is like putting a stake in the ground. Sometimes it feels like a personal indulgence. And so what. Without art I was lost and it gives me a chance to reflect and to consider how I view the world. What could be more important?


So, having answered the questions myself, I am passing the blog baton on… to three artists friends whose work or approach inspires me. They will post answers to the questions above on their own blogs next Monday, but please feel free to check out their creative output right now!

First up is Michelle Avision who is my inspirational printmaking tutor at Morley college. She also owns and runs her own print studio Slaughterhaus in south London. I usually only see the teacher side of her so I have enjoyed catching up with her painting blog from Scotland over summer. The video gallery on her site shows some footage of Michelle being interviewed where she talks about setting up your own residency structure and how she works in the open and transfers ideas back to the studio.

Next is Niki Cotton whose blog I found through a post she had a written about struggling to make changes to a painting and showed all the stages she went through. This side of creating art is one you never get to see in the finished works hanging on gallery walls and it takes a bravery to reveal it. Get to know the real Niki at nikicottonart.com UPDATE: Read Niki’s post here

And finally is Sarah Boyts Yoder who I discovered via Pinterest. She works in Charlottesville VA – the wonders of being inspired from across the pond! She uses bold painting and collages shapes to create vibrant works that play with colour, marks and composition in an exciting way. Take a look through her work at sarahboytsyoder.com and I promise you will leave with your fingers itching and feeling braver. UPDATE: Read Sarah’s post here.

And a sneaky extra bonus… I came across Amanda Foshag during #DrawingAugust. She is primarily a textile artist but some of her drawings are beautiful – take a look and see what she creates over on her Facebook page.

I am delighted that you all agreed to take part and I can’t wait to read your replies when you post next Monday. Thank you x


One of my hesitations about creating art is that it can feel a rather solitary pursuit. You have to be your own rocket fuel, judge, teacher, whip-cracker and cheerleader. (Insert slightly dodgy stock-library photography of your own choosing here …)

If this is a feeling you recognise then you are most definitely not alone! The art college crit system provides you with a chance for discussion and debate about your own work; having the chance to push and pull ideas around with others can be extremely helpful in making progress. But unless you are a member of a painting group or class it’s hard to create this yourself and it’s tempting to look online for the answers.

Undoubtably YouTube can be an inspirational artists resource but as you have to spend time watching each clip, it can also be a tremendous time sink. There was a period I lost whole mornings to the overwhelm of watching other people create when what I really wanted was to get back to my own work. It can be quite hypnotising but leave you at the end of the day with a rather empty feeling and nothing to show for it. What would you rather do: watch others or make your own art?

One of the reasons I set up this site was to connect with others about the journey we all take creatively – to celebrate the ups and the downs. I’m quite an extrovert but after 6 weeks of children’s summer holidays I am craving some time on my own so possibly today is not the day to be writing about inviting more people in! But I believe we can all benefit from the interaction that sharing can bring, wherever we are on our creative journey.

A week or so ago I discovered
#DrawingAugust on Twitter: simply a way to show and share drawings created during the month (rather late I know!). I’m new to Twitter so I’m probably creating all sorts of twit-ups with what I’m sharing and liking but it’s fun. Some days I’ve been happy with what I’ve done and others not so much…

Inspired by David Parfitt’s sketchbook posting I tried painting clouds in watercolour for the first time.
Not a huge success, but it inspired me to go off and see how Turner tackled the same problem and I’ve since been experimenting using watercolours in my sketchbook much more.


I’ve watched with enjoyment as others post their images and joined by sharing my own. What has made it fun is the interaction: a question about technique, the shared frustration with moving subjects who won’t sit still, and of course it’s always nice to have a ‘favourite’ or a ‘retweet’. That old school gold star reward is hard to shift!


We all have a fear of putting yourself ‘out there’ especially treading carefully in the online world. But think what you have to gain. This week an old friend of mine contacted me to say he had been inspired to get his sketchbook out again after seeing what I was doing. He was happy to let me share it and it’s over on the Facebook page, he said a “rusty but fun!” drawing fitted into his lunch hour.

TIP: when looking at artwork online, don’t get sucked in! Know the reason for looking: if you are looking for inspiration remind yourself to stop as soon as you find that spark – make a note of whatever idea was triggered so when you next have the time you know what you want to begin with.

If you enjoyed this, why not share with others you know and help build a supportive network – come over to the Facebook page and say hello and let us know what you are working on, or what your biggest challenge is right now.