Saturday, 28 December 2013

Laptop Breakdown, Christmas and the Future!

Hello all!

So basically this is going to be one of those very convoluted blog posts that I don't expect anyone will read, but if any of you want to know things about where I am currently, then this will provide all of the info necessary!

First of all, I'd like to say a very big Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

The reason I've not been posting as often is due to a laptop crisis of that it likes to randomly bluescreen/crashdump whenever it feels like it, and has been officially declared null, void etc. by a computer man in a shop (who i paid quite a lot of money just to confirm that for me, ffs.) Basically if I even remotely try to open Photoshop, plug in hardware, or open more than about three tabs, it freaks out and bluescreens. Which has put a stopper to any digital creativity this Christmas!

The good news is that I'm currently researching new laptops, which will be fun and exciting as it has been four years since I bought myself any new gadgets!

The furthest I got before it died was an unfinished 4 hour digital painting which I will share with you briefly!:

I'm very glad I managed to recover it (thankyou autosave) as it all looked pretty grim for a bit. I'll hopefully be back in business soon!

As for the imminent future, the next big piece of  news is that I have officially signed up for the Advanced 3D for VFX course at Escape Studios. Following on from the Taster course I wrote about a couple of months ago, I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead with it. The course is 18-weeks, very intensive but hopefully by the end of it I can officially call myself a 3D Artist which will be very exciting! More on that soon, fingers crossed!

Finally, I had a lovely quiet Christmas with my family, and received lots of lovely prezzies (mainly Game of Thrones themed) for which I feel very lucky that I have such generous family and friends! All of my gifts went down well too. I might post separately about this if I get the time :) I can't wait for New Years Eve, where I plan to get very very intoxicated before I have to start burying my head in education again.

Anyhoo, that's all from me, hopefully the next time I write will be from a brand new, fully functional laptop!



Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sketch Post

Just  a quick one before I go to bed!

I'm going to try and start painting her in soon, I'll keep you updated on my progress!



Monday, 2 December 2013

The Creative Initiative, Week #4

Hello all,

So I'm a little late to the party, but I thought I'd join in with a lovely idea created by the blogger geniuses that are BeingLittle and ThisLovelyLittleDay (whom I think you should go and check out immediately, if you don't already follow them). Put simply, we have to create something from a weekly prompt, which I think is a) clever and b) just what I need to get myself out of my art block! If you want to join in the fun, head over to Lyzi's post here!

This week's was GRATITUDE, or what we're thankful for.

Besides the obvious things like family, friends, health and the opportunities I've been offered throughout my life so far, I think one of the things I'm most greatful for is the human imagination. It sounds horribly cliche, but if you think about it, we wouldn't have anything if someone, one day, hadn't dreamt it up.

My take on this is obviously dragons, pirates and misty mountains (can you tell I'm looking forward to The Hobbit?) but I think it's brilliant what the human mind has created, especially in art, myth and storytelling. As I'm going to be entering into a field which specializes in bringing the impossible to life, it felt right to choose this for this week's prompt.

Anyway, as next week's theme is DREAMS, this image may encompass both, in which case I'll see if I can come up with something different.

Thank you for reading!


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Half Moon Run @ O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire 18/11/2013

Being a person who likes to spend a lot of money on live music (and then wonder why she doesn't have any), I try to think about which bands I spend money on. With festivals, it's different, you're going there for the experience, the people and the weird and wonderful fantasy land you get to camp in for four days, as well as you are the music. But with live concerts, I have to really like them.

So with Half Moon Run, I'd actually been on a Spotify binge (which I can't do anymore due to my subscription running out, sad times) and was putting together a new playlist to a) get ready for Latitude Festival and b) motivate me during the last push of my dissertation. I usually ignore the spam from Spotify telling me to 'check out these bands we think you'll like!' but this time I didn't. And I'm glad I did!

Half Moon Run are a four-piece hailing from Canada, and when I looked them up, Spotify only had one of their songs stored, 'Full Circle'. I knew nothing about them, listened to this track, and immediately added it to my thoughtfully-named playlist, 'SUMMER SONGS WOO'. I then stumbled across 'Call me in the afternoon' and the entire Dark Eyes album. As I used to sing (a bit, not well ha) I think the first thing that strikes me about any band is the voice. And Devon's voice is really interesting. They have harmonies reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and Fossil Collective, and a kind of keening/straining in his voice that drew me in. And they were playing at Latitude, ticking the last box.

Stupidly, though, I missed them at Latitude, and then found out that my brother liked them too, and had managed to miss them at Latitude AND Reading. But we liked them so much we took the plunge and bought tickets. As they've mainly been touring as a support act for bands like Of Monsters and Men and Mumford and Sons, the tickets weren't expensive, and as Connor informed us mid-gig, this was the biggest of their headlining gigs so far.

The support was a little-known artist called Mikhael Paskalev. I only had a look at him the night before the gig, and whilst musically him and his live band were fantastic, the songs didn't really do anything for me. Whilst the harmonies and build-ups were very impressive, it was difficult to find a central melody/ a memorable tune within them to really motivate me to listen again, as he seemed to be playing around with several different genres at once. He certainly looked the part, well, until he donned a weird cap halfway through, which I'm not sure matched the get up, but hey-ho, that's musicians for you. Still worth a listen, I think.

The band came on pretty demurely, there were no big 'bangs' or crescendos, and they led in with '21 Gun Salute', which is quite a slow starter. It surprised me and my brother, who were expecting them to begin with 'Call Me In the Afternoon' or 'Full Circle', one of their leading singles. This turned out to be a fantastic choice, as they used the songs later on in the evening to really churn up the crowd.

The rest of the album went pretty smoothly, having listened to all of it on repeat for the last few months, I'm ashamed to say I did mouth along as much as I could (despite occasionally doing that awkward thing where you know half of a sentence and have to mumble the rest so the other fans don't think you're an idiot.) The rest of the set was a classic up, then down, a new song, then the big two towards the end. I think the resounding thing I enjoyed about their performance was their obvious surprise at such a warm reaction. A favourite moment was when Devon raised the microphone during the chorus of Full Circle and genuinely grinned his face off as the entire venue sang it back to him - I think it's lovely whenever you're present for an artist realising the effect they've had on such a large number of people.

After that, I began to get a bit worried. My favourite track, hands down, is 'She Wants to Know'. I can't pinpoint what it is about the song that makes it stand out, but I think Devon's vocals are incredible, and it was the one I was looking forward to the most. They'd played right through the entire album, and as She Wants to Know seemed to be one of the lesser-plugged songs on the band's Youtube/Twitter, I didn't think it would be used in the encore. I'd expected it about halfway through. However, they actually finished the set with it. And I was just as surprised as the band as I realised that most of the people around me were yelling the chorus just as loudly as I was. All I can say is the fans have bloody good taste.

Their encore was pretty special too. Opting to scrap the microphones and take on a Pink Mountaintops cover, Lumineers-style, It was pretty adorable to watch all four of them crowd together and harmonise without all of the gear. If I sidestep the screaming girls ruining it for everyone else, it was a highlight. That and Conner's response to a bloke yelling 'CONNER I WANT YOUR BABIES' with a wink and a 'You and Me Later'. The final 'Blues' was a humble, yet satisfying finish. Here is a video of the acoustic performance:

Thank you for reading!


Saturday, 9 November 2013

My Taster at Escape Studios

Well hello!

This has been a very exciting week for me, as I've started to take the first steps in my plans for the future. I've always felt that though illustration and digital painting is my hobby, I'd love to take it to the next level, and turn it into a skill where I could finally work in the industry I spend days watching. So I'm (hopefully) embarking into the wild world of CGI and VFX. I love working in 2D, but creating something that moves and appears photorealistic would be incredible.

So I've been looking at a number of colleges, universities and institutions to find the best place for me to do this. One of the courses I became really excited about very quickly was an intensive vocational course at a London-based studio called Escape. I was recommended them by someone who'd trained there, and so I did some research and booked myself onto an open day.

It's not like your average university campus, it not being a university at all, but a specialist, private college where people of all ages go to gain the skills they need to get into the industry. It's run and taught by industry professionals, primarily. There isn't so much of a theoretical aspect, in that at University you'd need to go and do probably more than one year, and spend some of your time writing essays and independently researching. Now having done an English Degree, a vocational route appealed to me a lot more. I enjoyed my time at Uni and I would never take it back as it provided me with the skills I needed to get to the next stage in my life, and some of the best friends I've ever made. However, at this point I think I really just need training in the software, and that's exactly what Escape offers.

On Thursday, I went ahead and attended their Taster Session, which they offer as an introduction to the kind of training you'd be getting if you took one of their Courses, which I think was a brilliant offer, in that it helped me work out what I was getting into before I nose-dived and signed on. I met some interesting people, and got to try out a day working in 3D with Maya, one of the leading pieces of animation software. I'm not going to lie, it's incredibly daunting, there's about a million different tabs, options and tools, as well as several different methods of achieving the same goal. We were taken through the entire process, Modelling, Texturing, Camera Tracking and even a bit of Comp at the end. We all had huge, good-looking computers to work on, and a screen to watch the tutor on as he explained how to go about doing things.

The end goal was to create some cubes in the style of Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes in the 60s, something a little like this:

We then had to use pre-made textures and bump maps to create two boxes with a cardboard and a metal texture. I think this was useful because it showed the variety you can achieve. I think texturing is definitely going to be my favourite part of the process, as creating the 'surface' of the object in Photoshop is part of the process. I also enjoyed creating the camera angles, as I could watch the camera pan around so I could check the angles, and it suddenly became an animation rather than a screenshot.

Anyway, here are some snapshots of the end product:

Despite it being a taster course, it was a fantastic experience and I was really pleased with the end product achieved in only a day's work! The tutor was very clear throughout the tutorial, and the people I met were lovely. Despite being one of the only absolute beginners in the class, I certainly didn't feel excluded. I learnt a lot more about the process, and if anything it made me even more excited to get started.

However, as a disclaimer I'm not 100% decided on whether Escape is the right option for me quite yet, I'm still in the process of visiting a few different places in order to get a rounded view of my options and make a calculated decision before I take the plunge.

I'm going to keep this blog updated, and I'll let you all know what I decide to do. I recommend the Escape taster session for anyone that wants a sneak peek, as it was great fun and very informative.


Monday, 4 November 2013

Sketches, WIPs and generally unfinished things.

So it turns out I, like many people, experience sudden bursts of creativity that generally amount to nothing productive.

I'm really good at starting things. I start a lot of things. But very few of them ever get finished, or finished to a degree where I feel genuinely proud of them or worth posting. 
This may well be some kind of perfectionist complex, and so this is my attempt to force myself out of it.

This was a painting started predominantly because I really wanted an iced tea. As you can see, it is the least finished, probably because I bought an iced tea the next day and never looked back.

This character is something I'm really hoping to finish soon. I'm proud of it and I think my painting is improving, slowly and surely. Her legs are proving to be the most irritating limbs I've ever drawn, partially because I like the rest of the image so much I'm constantly redesigning them to match.
 Think I'll sleep on it for now.

This is another sketch I've grown to like recently. I posted my progress on instagram yesterday and actually got a cheeky repost, which I was very chuffed by considering the image quality on my phone camera. It's Edward Kenway from Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, which though I haven't played it yet, I am planning on buying it soon and have been watching Hannah from the Yogscast play it through. Above all it's a gorgeous game, just like the others, and I love how big and detailed the map is. I'll update if I can actually get my hands on it! In the meantime I might scan him in and make him into a piece of digital painting at some point. But for now, he can stay a manly rugged sketch.

I think I might make more of these more often, if anything just to prove that I do draw on a regular basis. I'm also snowed under with creative projects, as well as my job so it's difficult to keep on top of everything. I'm determined to keep blogging, if anything to fuel my own motivation.


Anxiety, Depression and Social Media

Bit of a different post today, but I felt like writing.

I've been seeing a lot of videos on anxiety and depression and how to deal with it around lately, and it's truly eye-opening. Loads of people seem to be suffering from similar things that I experience on a daily basis, and I find it inspirational watching a lot of people talk about their own experiences. But, obviously, as it is first and foremost a psychological disease, I think there have been some negative effects of it being broadcast so widely and by influential people.

I'm not meaning to be cynical, not at all. I think people genuinely trying to offer advice to other sufferers is a fantastic thing and they should completely be commended. I think it's the inadvertent knock-on effect of having influential people, with a young, impressionable audience, posting videos and making it known that they have a flaw. Take Zoella's video for example:

Now, I think Zoe seems like a lovely person - I watch her videos regularly, even though I'm not really that interested in fashion etc. because she appears genuine, down-to-earth and honest. She's just won the Vlogger of the Year at the BBC Radio Teen Choice, for example. Her audience, as demonstrated by her award, is largely female, 10-16 year old girls. After her video, a shock of responses, videos, blog posts and tweets immediately appeared declaring how inspirational she was, how a lot of these girls were experiencing depression, cutting themselves, and how she was a light at the end of the tunnel. Again, I commend her for sharing such a personal thing, and I found it motivating myself, but at the same time, I think the effects were both positive and negative.

Taking as an example the #cut4bieber scandal, where several young people, predominately girls, jumped on the twitter tagwagon and began to actually take pictures of themselves self-harming. This tag, besides being awful, turned self-harm from a genuine addiction into an attention-seeking joke. I have never self-harmed, but I believe there are people who suffer with severe depression and do it regardless of anyone else's influence, and certainly not for the public eye. In the same way, anxiety and depression have almost become 'popular'. I don't doubt that a lot of the people that say they are suffering online genuinely do have symptoms, and do feel sad, but my point is this: how much of it is assimilated?

I get panic attacks, and I know that if I read about the symptoms of a panic attack, I can convince myself, psychologically, to have one, because I know I'm capable of having them, and I start to feel the symptoms that I'm reading. In the same way that a hypochondriac would look at the symptoms of a disease and psychologically convince themselves that they were suffering from it. 

All of this attention drawn to mental illness, I think, can convince some teenagers, or subliminally encourage them, to make themselves sad, to effectively think their way into the illness. It might begin as a way to live up to their idol, and turn into something horrible and life-changing. 

And this, in turn, has a negative effect on society's view of these diseases, because it suddenly becomes a superficial, made up, crowd-sourced, popular 'thing', as opposed to the genuine problem that it is for so many people. Doctors, still, don't always take it as seriously as they should, and this I think might be exacerbating the problem.

Just something I was thinking about recently. 
I'll stop being opinionated now and get back to drawing, promise.


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Halloween Extravaganza!

Hi all,

So after having graduated, I started to feel a bit down about Halloween, as I worried I wouldn't get the chance to have as much fun dressing up/going out/generally being silly as I have done the last three years. It's been one of my favourite events of the year for as long as I can remember. I think it's also me displacing that nagging fear that I'm growing old too quickly, but enough about that...

Thankfully though, a few of my friends and I had a little get-together the other night which involved very random/unco-ordinated costumes, a Scooby Doo film and lots of unhealthy food, which I feel is the best and only way to celebrate Halloween. I borrowed a friend's headdress and donned a poncho, pretty fun to walk around in, not going to lie. There were flowers, toadstools, sombreros and zombies. Best makeshift party ever.

Riding my high spirits, I've attempted to be creative and do something a bit out of my comfort zone. I mostly create everything in Photoshop these days, so buying a pack of Sharpie markers and having at some good old-fashioned sketchbook paper was a needed break from all the staring at a screen. In the spirit of Halloween, I've always loved the Spanish Day of the Dead festival look, with sugar skulls, feathers, jewels and lots of colour. I think western 'horror' has sortof turned into all vampires, werewolves and zombies these days, or as would seem the commercial trend. I think the Spanish do it better, personally.

I'm pretty pleased with how she came out! She'll be taking a place on my neglected wall of art I've drawn over the past few years. I don't know why, but I want to call her something really anti-climactic like Kevin.

That's all for now, though I have some exciting plans for the future which I'm hoping to post about soon!



Friday, 27 September 2013

WOTO, Chamomile and WIPs

Hi all!

So just thought I'd update you on a few things!

At the moment I've been starting a lot of things (and not finishing them, ha) but I thought I'd show you where I've gotten to anyway. I've also begun at a new job recently, so that's taking up a lot of my time - once I've gotten into a routine I will try to stop neglecting my blog...

So the first thing i started a few weeks ago was a piece of mock-concept art. I actually scanned in a sketch first, and painted on top of it, which is something I'm trying to keep going with as it creates a much more painter-ly, almost realistic effect:

I'm pretty pleased with this so far, her face isn't quite right but it's getting there :) I had a nightmare deciding her hair colour but went with this turquoise in the end as I thought it'd give it a slightly futuristic edge.

The other project I started was just an autumn/winter inspired, stereotypical picture of a girl drinking coffee. Sound familiar? I'm loving painting hair at the moment, so I'm having fun with that. And faces, I think I'm getting better at faces but practice makes perfect!

Aand finally, just for a bit of fun, I love the WOTO boys on youtube so I drew them a little piece of fan art. Liam favourited it, so I'm super happy! Here it is:

If you don't know what a flatface is, then I refer you to this video: 

That's all for now, I'll try to keep updating but I'm very busy at the moment! Hope you're all well!


Thursday, 19 September 2013

What I Wore: New Job Edition

Hello all!

Just a quick sketch as I felt like drawing something - so here's a What I wore! (In celebration of my newest job!)

Nothing very exciting! The Blazer has become possibly the most useful item in my wardrobe as it automatically turns something casual/old into something smart, which means I haven't had to buy many new formal clothes! Similarly, the skater skirt (which was £16 from Topshop, bargain!) works with most of my tops, and I'm very glad I panic-purchased it in an effort to look smart for my interview. Can't have done too badly, I guess?

Have some links if you fancy some cheap formal wear:

- Skirt, £16.00 Topshop
- Blazer £24.99 New Look

New art posts soon, or at least some WIPs.

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Boomtown Fair 2013

Oh. My. God.

Honestly one of the best slightly 'smaller' festivals I've ever been to, and I'm not just saying that. The whole premise of it is individual: They create a fake town. Like an actual town. With walls and a Bank and a Town Centre and about 30 little 'buildings' with stages inside them.

When we got there, the queue was pretty massive, I'm not going to lie. And I think the only thing that could possibly drag this festival down a couple of notches is the HILL. This is the very steep, very high hill that one must either stumble down or hike painfully up at least two or three times a day in order to see all the acts they want to. I mean, exercise-wise I probably lost about five pounds that weekend, but it is the last thing you want to be doing with loads of heavy camping gear or on a hangover.

Annoyingly, this hill connects the two main 'districts', which are Uptown and Downtown, which obviously are at the top and bottom of this hill. Uptown is where the Town Centre, Ballrooms, Lion's Den and Bank are located - and the music ranges from Electroswing (my favourite) to Ska, Hip-Hop and Dub. Downtown (where we camped) had the Boombox, Arcadia and El Barrio Loco, home to house, angry, loud electro and gypsy/balkan.

We camped near the back of the the Boombox, which was hilarious. They'd built a giant Boombox which the DJ sits inside of, and we'd be having breakfast to a weird mixture of jungle, chart, 90s classics and dubstep at about 12pm every afternoon.

We were also pretty near to Arcadia, which if you're not a festival-goer is basically a giant mechanical spider-monster-thing with laser-eyes, moving claws and the loudest, pounding, electronic, bass-y music you've ever heard. It migrates the country, showing up at most festivals in some form, and even when you're completely sober it's a little bit overwhelming. It's loads of fun, and she (yes, she) looks a little something like this:

We can only assume her owners/servants have to sacrifice goats to her, and guard as she lies in wait during the daytime.

Getting onto bands, I couldn't possibly name half of the ones we saw, because there were so many. To mention a couple, a highlight definitely came from German band Rotfront, with awesome Gypsy/Balkan-style songs including Berlin-Barcelona and Sovietoblaster (which we sang for the rest of the weekend).

Another band who I definitely recommend are Kitten and The Hip - I'd listened to them a bit before the festival and as they were one of the only British Electro Swing bands I'd ever heard of, I was pretty excited. Their most catchy songs are definitely Don't You Worry and Shut Up and Dance - they do have some songs which are more geared towards electroswing, and others which are more ska/reggae. They drew quite a big crowd from intially about 3 other people, so was pretty impressed. Plus Kitten is literally the most beautiful woman alive, very jealous:

Aaaaand last but definitely not least were my Highlight of the Festival, The Parov Stelar Band. I'd never heard of them before, but as soon as they started I was pretty much hooked. A lot of the music is instrumental, but when you want a dance, and some good old-fashioned Electroswing, they tick all the boxes. They performed in the town centre, during the last slot on the Sunday night, and I had so much fun! Even tried a few swing moves, don't worry, it's not something I plan on doing very often. Parov Stelar is a DJ/Brass Musician, and though being very talented on his own, he brings a whole band along with him, including sax, trumpets and an amazing female singer. All in all, definitely worth a watch if you can catch them!

Other highlights from the weekend included my friend's disgusting/hilarious baby-head, panda hats, general silliness and also the uniting of said creepy 6ft5 baby with Elmo:

Photos borrowed (stolen) from my good friend Rachel who is the master photographer and all should bow down to her.*

Goooood times.

Anyway, thats a wrap for now!


*this should always be combined with bowing down to K

Latitude Festival 2013


Well, I have to say that I don't think any summer would be complete without at least a couple of music festivals to break up the bore of reality. And to be honest, it is kind of like a different world - but that's why it's so addictive.

The first of the two I went to was Latitude Festival. It's based in Suffolk, in a large leafy area on the outskirts of Southwold, and is annually home to some of the biggest indie/folk/alternative acts on the international music scene. To illustrate this point, this year's headliners included two big-name indie British bands, Bloc Party and Foals, and bizarrely, the so-called inventors of 80s techno, Kraftwerk, who hail from Germany. It also has a variety of alternative stages, where there is everything from comedy and theatre, to poetry, literature and classical dance. I think that's why it's become my family's favourite - there's so much to offer and if you're not as obsessed with music as I am, you'll still find something weird and/or wonderful.

However, for me, the highlights were definitely the bands. I discovered a couple of new ones, and enjoyed some golden oldies from years ago - and most of all, I got to see a couple of the bands I had been wanting to see for months! These included The Tallest Man on Earth (who doesn't come across very sane, but he sings good), Villagers, The Family Rain (who were excellent and I will be doing a separate post on how amazing they are) and I Am Kloot, the lead singer of which my dad made best friends with when I wasn't there, which is super annoying. 

He has a rare talent for spotting musicians I love when I'm not around - which is something that happened at Latitude a few years ago. He and my mum went for a coffee in a nearby town while we were all still sleeping, and managed to sit at the table right next to Jonsi and his entire band. On the bright side, I got a programme signed by the entire band, but still! Next time I am tailing my dad as closely as I can, which is not something I ever thought I'd say.

My favourite performance definitely came from Alt-J. They were incredible. I'm not going to talk about it, I think i'll be lazy and show you a video. Hopefully this will explain:

I'll be doing a separate post on BoomTown, as I have a load more pictures for that and it needs its own segment because it was THAT incredible. I don't really have many photos from Latitude as I went with my family and my best friend, and nobody bought a proper camera, typical.

More soon!


Breaking the hiatus, Proud Camden and New Job!

Well hello,

Yes, i've been awful, but I've also been ridiculously busy! I promise I have a good reason for being rubbish!

I've just finished a 3 Month Internship with Proud Camden in London, doing all sorts of design-y fun things, but it was very stressful a lot of the time and had me running around London, organizing things, calling people up, and overall tiring me out massively - so when I got home, the idea of blogging was far too stressful, and all I could really do was be engulfed by the sofa and stare blankly at american sitcoms till I decided it was bedtime.

Buuut, it was a fun three months, and whilst there were definitely bad days where I had no idea what I was doing, I also got to work on really fun projects, like a wall mural for one of their VIP rooms:

This was actually my first project with them, and I was essentially told to paint a room black, then take some white graffiti markers and scribble all over it. I like how it turned out, though these are just pictures from my phone while I was finishing it. Basically the premise was classic album covers for the Karaoke Room, so I combined everything from Hendrix to The Beatles!

We also got to work on a promotional event for Disney's Lone Ranger - which though I couldn't be there for the actual event, I got to spend a lot of time sketching Johnny Depp's face, and also making wanted posters to put up around the bars:

So yeah, it was a great start in the Design Industry and there were loads of projects that I got to have a lot of fun with!

And as of yesterday, I have a new job! I'm going to working with a bespoke kitchen company, doing a mix of design and marketing - which means I'll hopefully be learning a few things about commercial design along the way. Plus, its only 2-3 days a week, which means more time to blog and be generally creative!

In addition to all that, I went to two festivals and spent a lovely week with my boyfriend near Stratford-Upon-Avon where he lives, and we did lots of things, like seeing an open-air play, visiting a zoo (where ALL of the baby animals were out and I have never been so happy in my life) and shopping in Birmingham. I will try and squish all of that into an update with some photos :)

But yes, I promise I'll be more punctual with these uploads, and I'll see how many I can whack out in the next few days to make up for the past few months. More arty and life-y type things coming up soon, promise!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, 21 June 2013

Big News

Hi all,

Nothing much to say, except that as of today, Friday 21st of June 2013, I have officially been awarded a 2:1 BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Southampton! I also got a First in my Dissertation Graphic Novel Project, the details of which I will be posting on this blog at some point so you can all see it!

So chuffed!



Sunday, 2 June 2013

First Impressions: Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid

Hey all,

So after a short hiatus during which time I finished my degree and sorted my life out (well, kindof), think I'll kick things off with a beauty review!

I went on a bit of a make-up binge yesterday, but the only thing I was really looking for was a new foundation. Though the Rimmel Wake-Me-Up has definitely served me well, and the finish and lasting power has made it into my new favourite foundation, unfortunately their colour selection just hasn't worked out for me. Their lightest foundation is still a bit orang-ey on my skin, and I really have to blend it down my neck and onto my chest if I want it to look at all natural. Which sucks as everything else is great about it.

Sooo, on a whim (and the closest Boots to me is pretty small) I bought the Maybelline dream satin liquid. I'd seen fair-to-good reviews online, and the thing which recommended them to me was their colour section went a lot lighter. I bought it in number 004: Light Porcelain, and it's a much better match to my skin. And though I'd love to be optimistic and say I'll be getting a tan, today has been the sunniest day so far in the last few months and it's already June...

The first thing I noticed was the texture, which is a little odd, but as Maybelline are selling it as 'air-whipped' with an 'airbrush finish', I'm guessing the mouss-ey texture is supposed to help with the application. I don't tend to use brushes (can't afford good ones!) but it blended pretty well. The coverage isn't as good as the Rimmel, but depending on how confident you feel wearing less. My skin is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and I have some scarring so I had to apply a fair amount of concealer. But otherwise, it's good, and I'm really pleased with the colour.

I haven't tested it's staying-power yet properly but I'll update you after I've done a full day at work and can really tell!

Anyway, that's all for now, I'm going to go and enjoy the sun!


Friday, 12 April 2013

My week at Central St. Martin's!

So for my big Christmas present this year, my parents booked me onto a week's course in Enhanced Illustration at Central St. Martin's College of Art in London, which I've been looking forward to for a while.

The course was geared around creating traditionally-produced images and textures, and using Photoshop's layering, colouring and rendering techniques to create illustrations for a number of different publications. We had four different briefs, which I'll list below.

It was taught by Illustrator and film storyboarder, and general professional Creative Bill Wright, who was a great tutor and really got everyone involved in a very positive way. I'd done a course at St. Martin's before, and the tutor had been a bit intimidating, so I was very pleased with the way this week was being taught - it was obviously intensive (we had to pretty much finish a new illustration every day) but it was done in such a casual, comfortable and engaging way that it didn't seem like very much work at all!

So, anyway...

Brief 1: Create a series of hand-drawn pencil images geared around the theme of either a workplace, kitchen or make-up table, and then compose them around an article template.

So I went for Kitchen, and the article name we were given was 'Kitchen Madness'. I didn't really like the font they used in the article template, so I changed it up a little with one of the fonts I had on my laptop. I originally was going to do a design geared around a drawing I did inspired by that iconic war-time poster of the housewife with the tie in her hair rolling her sleeve up, but in the end I decided a more cutes-y them might be a better shout. Here's what I came up with:

This is a bit rough, and I don't think its the best I could have done but as we had limited time and just the images we'd already drawn to work with, I think it came out pretty good!

Brief 2: Create an illustration based around an article from a newspaper.

So I (being the positive soul that I am) chose a story about a mental health patient who, due to apparent neglect by the NHS killed herself. The story was about the mistreatment of mental health patients. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to scan the story, so I had to draft the title from memory and added in some template text just to get an idea of how the composition would look on paper.

I did like it, but I maybe went a bit off-piece with the design...I'm not sure my style (at the moment) is quite right for editorial work, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn! I made this using some hand-made colours/textures that I'd scanned in, and an inked drawing of a figure. It came out looking a bit like it had been digitally made rather than traditionally created but as a stand-alone piece I don't mind it!

Brief 3: Create a reportage-style image, either from life or a photo.

Reportage is basically where the illustrator will either be present at the story (i.e, in the courtroom) and sketch whilst the story is happening, or draw from photos that are relevant to the piece. I found an old photo from Reading Festival in 2009 of me and all of my friends sitting around the campsite, though I changed a few things while I was drawing to make it more moody. I think it came out well, though I'm not great with watercolour really, and I'm not used to using a rough, messy style so it was out of my comfort zone, whilst a load of the other students were really used to that so I felt like a bit of an amateur. I like the finished piece though:

I inked the sketch I'd done from the photo, then I painted the watercolours on some tracing paper and put them together in Photoshop.

Brief 4: Create a series of three themed illustrations, using all the techniques learnt during the course.

I think this was my best one, to be honest! Fantasy has always been my forte, and this one actually formed from a doodle I was drawing while I was waiting for my watercolours from Brief 3 to dry. It began with a sort of wooden/stone-type figure, and then she became the focus of all three images. Her arm in the first image is actually because I couldn't find a position I liked it in, so decided to have it crumbling away instead. That, then, became the underlying theme (whatever the theme was, ha)

These definitely took the longest - I scanned the pencil sketches, painted in some basic colours with india ink on tracing paper, shaded with charcoal on some more tracing paper, then put them all in together. The watercolours were actually just the spare paper I'd used to dab my watercolour brush on, but that's why you should never throw anything away! The background was actually just the back of my sketchbook, which I decided I liked the look of so scanned that in and manipulated the colour!

Anyway, that's all that I have to report, hopefully I'll update again soon if I can get my life together!


Biffy Clyro at the O2 (06/04/13)

Hey all,

So i've not been able to update so much the past couple of weeks, but that's largely due to dissertation work, aaaand the week-long illustration course I've been doing at Central St. Martin's in London. It's been a great week, though getting up at 7am every day and commuting into town was a bit of a shock to my lazy student system. The flat I'm staying in is lovely, though I'm under pressure to keep it clean. The greatest part is that I can see the Shard, and London Bridge from my window, they're only about five minutes' walk away!

So anyway, yeah, lots to report! I'll do a separate post on the Illustration course as there's lots of pictures to post up :)

First of all - since going to Foals, I had another stroke of luck and managed to bag myself a free ticket to see Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro at the O2. And, even better, they were being supported by no other than Alexisonfire's Dallas Green, aka City and Colour (such a deep band name ha.)

Has to be said, I know Biffy fans will call this blasphemy but musically I enjoyed C & C a lot more. His voice is almost otherwordly, really clear and piercing, and the acoustics in the O2 are obviously amazing. He did go for an odd choice of cowboy hat but I'm willing to let that slide as his music was so gorgeous.

I really liked 'Sleeping Sickness' and 'Grand Optimist', both of which are in my Spotify top played at the moment. My headphones popped out on the tube the other day and the whole carriage got a preview too. Spreading the love, in a way?

Biffy of course were amazing. Although their vocals weren't as clean-cut, they were no less enjoyable. I think I look for vocals in a live performance as I'm a singer (not a good one, mind) and that's what I naturally listen for. But their gig was great, they were all topless and heavily tattooed (definitely a pro), and were endlessly energetic. Simon Neil stayed onstage for the entire gig, and barely even paused to have a sip of water...amazing!

'Black Chandelier' is their new single, and it was really great. I was also very happy to hear some old classics from my 16-year-old obsession, like 'Who's Got A Match?' and 'Bubbles'. Even if you don't like the music that much, they still know how to keep everyone on their feet (we were in seated, and everyone was standing by about 5 minutes into their set!)

Anyway, it was a great night out, and though it was a bit bizarre standing next to my parents while everyone around us was dressed entirely in black and head-banging furiously, it was still great fun and I'm glad I got the chance to see them live, especially as they're in much higher demand than they were about four years ago!

Anyhoo, art-related post coming soon!


Friday, 29 March 2013

Foals at the Royal Albert Hall: 28/03/13

Hey all,

So I thought I'd write up a quick post about my day yesterday, as it was very impromptu and really fun! A couple of days ago my friend texted asking if I wanted a free ticket to go see Foals live, and of course I said yes. They're also headlining Latitude Festival, and as I may well be going to that too, this was a great excuse to get into them properly before the festival.

I'd heard 'Cassius' from their first album loads before, as well as 'My Number' more recently, but I hadn't really listened to any of their other music. They were being supported by Efterklang, too, another band who are playing Latitude Festival, so it was definitely worth going to see them.

For 3.30 on a Thursday afternoon, the Royal Albert Hall was surprisingly packed. I don't think (festivals excluded) I've ever gone to a 'Matinee' Concert, which felt a little bizarre but in the end it didn't make much of a difference (And we probably got to watch them when they were slightly less tired, which is a plus-side). I'd never been to the Royal Albert Hall before, and on the inside, it seemed a lot smaller than the huge stadium-size venue I'd been expecting. However, the acoustics in that room were incredible. We were sitting at the front of the seated-section, behind the standing area and the techno-geeks with their laptops, but we could still hear everything as clearly as if we had been right up at the front.

Efterklang were really good, I hadn't heard of them before, but they're clearly making a name for themselves in the indie circles, and quite rightly. I think the highlight of their set for me was the final song, called 'Modern Drift' where Katinka and Casper synchronised vocals, and harmonised over the top of one another. I found a video via YouTube, if any of you would like to watch:

I can confidently say I'm looking forward to seeing them again at Latitude. They were really sweet, smooth and their music worked fantastically in the Royal Albert, where the acoustic was ten times the level of any other venue I've ever been to. Katinka's operatic backing vocals sounded incredible in the Albert Hall.

Foals, too, were great. I recognised more songs than I thought I knew, highlights being 'Inhaler', which they played during the encore, and 'My Number' which they played after their first song to get the crowd going. I was hoping they'd play 'Cassius', a favourite from about four years ago but sadly they didn't. However, it was a great gig altogether, and the Royal Albert was the last place I expected to watch anyone crowd-surfing. But Yannis managed it, clearly not satisfied with staying put in one place for too long, and there was a moment where he surged into the seating area, had a bit of a skip around and then fought his way back to the front. I'm not sure the RAH is the most rock-and-roll place to do that, but each to their own.

Foals, musically were really really great. I'd never expected their sound to carry so well, but I can now completely see why they've been made headliners for Latitude 2013. They have a sound that could easily fill a whole stadium, coupled with light and laser shows to rival Muse. I can't wait to see them again in July!

That's all for now, more art updates soon hopefully!