Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Sheffield Print Fair

November is probably the busiest month of my year and over the next few weeks I'll be going to Oxford, London and Nottingham. This weekend I'll be exhibiting at Sheffield Print Fair as well giving a screen print demonstration there. There are printmaking demonstrations throughout the day and they are a good opportunity to learn about different techniques. I've done the print fair once before and was really impressed by the quality of work on show. I'm looking forward to seeing some great prints and meeting lots of other print-makers.
Sheffield Print Fair
Saturday 15th November 2014 10am-4pm
St Mary's Church & Conference Centre  
Bramall Lane  
S2 4QZ

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Eye Candy Festival in Birmingham

Girls Who Draw have been offered a commission for this year's Eye Candy Festival in Birmingham. The festival is a great opportunity to promote ourselves and our Marine Life postcard book but it's also quite a challenge. Everyone involved in the book is so busy, we're very rarely in the same place at the same time. Added to which we are based in different parts of the country including Birmingham, London, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and even Cornwall. So it's taken a while to organise our contribution but there will actually be four of us at Eye Candy and we'll be running printmaking and drawing workshops throughout the festival. I'm particularly looking forward to a visit from Belinda Chen. She'll be taking a break from screen printing at East London Printmakers to come and help me run a screen printing workshop at Eye Candy on Friday the 14th of November.
Eye Candy Festival 13th - 15th of November 2014
104 Floodgate Street
B5 5SR

Monday, 3 November 2014

Witches at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

At the end of summer Girls Who Draw were commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to create another set of characters. This time we each had to illustrate a witch and two humans who had been transformed into animals! I chose to look at Elizabethan woodblock prints of witches for inspiration which is why my characters are dressed in Tudor style costumes. 
Once again the characters were printed life size onto vinyl and applied to the same wooden blocks as in the Who Wears the Trousers? exhibition. But this time the blocks were positioned in different places around the theatre and used for a Halloween Activity Trail. I've been waiting a while to see the finished witches and finally got to see them in situ during October half term.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Screen Printing Workshops

Last year I started buying silk screens, squeegees and other equipment specifically for running workshops. Now I have pretty much everything I need and can teach screen printing where ever there's a few tables, a sink and some willing participants! So far I've taught at a stately home, in a shopping centre, an art gallery, a marquee and even outside a folly. As well as investing in equipment I've also been experimenting more with paper stencils and using them for screen printing. The great thing about paper stencils is that they are so quick, easy and cheap to make, they also give surprisingly good results. They don't require any expensive equipment or nasty chemicals, just a kitchen table and kitchen sink. I really enjoy being able to make a few cuts and then printing straight away. I printed this sunshine in less than a day using 5 paper stencils and 5 colours. Another thing I love about screen printing with paper stencils is the thickness of the ink and the different effects that are created by overlapping layers of colour. My next screen printing workshop is this Saturday at Weston Park in Shropshire which is a beautiful location and will inspire some great printmaking.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Saltaire Maker's Fair Festival Special!

In a few days I'll be heading north to Leeds and then to the beautiful World Heritage Village Saltaire where I'll be exhibiting my screen prints at this year's Maker's Fair Festival Special. The Makers’ Fair is a showcase of original, hand produced art and craft in the unique setting of Victoria Hall over the weekend of 13th and 14th of September. 
Maker's Fair Festival Special
10am - 5pm
Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th of September
Victoria Hall

New Screen Prints for Autumn 2014

This year's been so busy and stressful that I've had very little time to work on new prints, there just haven't been enough hours in the day. But at last I've managed to screen print two new designs ready for upcoming Autumn and Christmas Fairs. I've switched to using 'Clear Daylight Film' to make my positives for photo screen printing and it's so much better than using acetates. Clear Daylight Film is compatible with ink jet printers and the positives print out perfectly. The black is more opaque than it is when using acetates which means I can expose my screens for longer and I get better quality photo stencils with very few imperfections. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Girls Who Draw present Marine Life

My summer was spent working on a new Girls Who Draw postcard book, although the preparations actually started in spring. It took quite a few emails to sort out the lineup of 12 illustrators for the book and get it confirmed. Some people said yes straight way, a few said yes and then forgot or dropped out, others said no or just didn't answer. I was worried it was never going to happen but in the end it all came together perfectly. The contributors are all illustrators I know or have met through selling work at fairs and that is really important. They all need to be reliable, professional and also self sufficient... they must already sell and exhibit their own work. I've been very lucky this year and everyone involved has been amazing to work with, in fact it's been the easiest book to do so far.

The theme for the postcard book was Marine Life which was really an excuse for me to draw more mythical creatures. I've wanted to illustrate Greek mythology for quite a while and was spoilt for choice as there are so many ancient Greeks sea deities. There's Poseidon, the Greek king of the sea, Amphitrite the Greek goddess of the sea, their son Triton, aswell as Nereus the old man of the sea and his daughters the Nereids. It's not hard to find images of these characters as they are all represented on ancient Greek ceramics. My illustrations were inspired by these and I chose to use colours similar to the red figure style of vase painting. I decided to draw a hippocampus, which is part horse, part fish and some of them are even depicted with wings. For my second illustration I drew a Nereid or sea nymph riding a dolphin.

Now the Marine Life postcard books are finished and back from the printers I'll be adding more details about them and the illustrators involved to the Girls Who Draw Facebook page.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Christmas is coming!

This summer the weather has been amazing which is great for day trips and holidays but not so good for screen printing. The print room has been unbearably hot, ink has been getting thick and sticky on the screen and printing has been hard work. It seems wrong to be getting ready for Christmas and I would much rather be at the beach, sitting in the garden or eating ice cream. But this year I'm trying to be organised so I've just screen printed 100 bird and snowflake Christmas cards. I'm hoping to get another card design finished and printed before the end of August as well as squeeze in more ice cream and a trip to the seaside.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Art in the Pen Skipton 2014

Over the past few months I've been screen printing flowers, trees and birds when ever I get the chance. Then with a bit of folding, gluing and cutting I turn the screen printed recycled card into colourful three dimensional decorations. 
I've amassed quite a collection and will soon be putting it all to good use at Art in the Pen in Skipton. Art in the Pen is a contemporary art fair which is held in a cattle auction. Over 100 selected artists transform sheep and cow pens into mini galleries from which they sell their original works of art. I'm really looking forward to having my own space and the opportunity to do something creative with it. I'm planning to decorate my pen with three dimensional flowers, trees and birds as well as framed prints.

Art in the Pen Skipton
16-17 August 2014
10am to 4pm
Skipton Cattle Auction
Ling Fields
Gargrave Road
BD23 1UD

Summer Screen Printing

These new screen prints look familiar because they are actually designs which I have been printing as cards for a while. I always draw all my designs either A4 or A3 and make sure they can be reproduced in a variety of different formats. Most of my designs are just two colours so they are also fairly quick and easy to screen print which is good, especially when the print room is as hot as it has been lately. These prints were fun to do but I'm really looking forward to printing some new designs and maybe even something a bit more challenging when the weather is cooler!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Royal Shakespeare Company & Who Wears the Trousers?

Earlier this year I was contacted by Lisa Meyer from Capsule after she was invited to curate an exhibition for the Royal Shakespeare Company inspired by the Swan Theatre production of The Roaring Girl. The central character from The Roaring Girl is the notorious thief Moll Cutpurse who dresses in men's clothing. Lisa wanted to work with Girls Who Draw on an interative family friendly exhibition which explored cross dressing in theatre. Her idea for the exhibition was a series of wooden blocks with life size characters on each side. The blocks would each be divided into three moveable sections so they could be turned and the characters mixed up like a three dimensional exquisite corpse. Luckily designing and making the blocks was not my job, I just had to create a set of three characters, find seven other illustrators to draw characters and organise getting all the artwork from them. Not only did we each have to produce full colour artwork but we also had to provide black and white line art for activity sheets. It was definitely a challenge but a really interesting project and a great opportunity to work with some regular Girls Who Draw contributors as well as new ones.

Much of my illustrative work is inspired by folk art and craft from around the world so I wanted my characters to reflect this. But many traditional costumes follow the norm of skirts or dresses for women and trousers for men. The main exception to this seems to be India where, in many regions trousers are part of traditional dress for both men and women. These styles have remained popular and also influenced contemporary Indian clothing so that they do not appear unusual or novel even here in the UK.

My female characters are inspired by Odissi and Bharatanatyam dancers with their ornate jewellery, head dresses and trousers with pleats which open and close during dances. By contrast my male character is inspired by Kathak dancers and in particular the simpler Mughal style of costume.


All twenty four finished characters were printed onto self adhesive vinyl and installed on eight wooden blocks along with mirrored vinyl so one side of each block is reflective. The wooden blocks were the work Joseph Welden who always seems to be able to make even the most challenging ideas a reality. Just as required he made the blocks in sections so they can be turned and also put things inside so the make a noise when moved.  

The characters can still be seen and heard in the Who Wears the Trousers? exhibition at the Royal Shakespeare Company until August 31st 2014.

Who Wears the Trousers? 
Ferguson Room
Swan Theatre
Stratford upon Avon

Monday, 19 May 2014

Anti Copying in Design

I am now a member of ACID - Anti Copying in Design. ACID was created to uphold the value of original design and over the last two decades it has become a powerful campaigning voice within the design community. ACID is committed to raising awareness and a greater understanding of intellectual property. It's main priorities are prevention and deterrence against intellectual property infringement. As well as working hard to minimise IP infringement ACID offers a range of practical ways to help members like myself protect their designs. Through ACID I now have access to legal and IP advice from specialist Legal Affiliates. More information about ACID and membership can be found on it's website

Folk Art Forest at Prema Gallery

The new bird and flower designs I screen printed in March were for a small exhibition of my work at Prema Gallery in the Cotswolds. I enjoy working three dimensionally with paper and card so displaying my framed screen prints in large cabinets was the perfect opportunity to create a colourful installation. I managed to fill the cabinets with birds and flowers and even got to reuse some of the 3d Folk Trees I made for Unit Twelve Gallery last year. 

Prema is a lovely family friendly arts centre in an idyllic location not far from Stroud in Gloucestershire. They often have exhibitions by different illustrators and also have an amazing cafe with unbelievably good cakes so I was in heaven and can't wait to go back for another visit.

Bird Tree cards

My Bird Tree design is a couple of years old now but initially I wasn't happy with it and had to redraw some parts. I've screen printed the design a few times since then and recently decided to reprint it in three different colourways using metallic inks on recycled brown kraft card. It feels like I've spent most of 2014 reprinting cards but it's quite nice to finally have all my Folk Tree designs in stock. Other cards I've updated include these Folk Tree & Bird designs which also make use of my favorite metallic inks on ivory coloured recycled card.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Spring has Sprung!

Hurray, spring is here at last and to celebrate warmer weather and longer daylight hours I have been screen-printing a new flower design. It's a fairly simple design so I can use it either individually or as a repeat pattern and produce a variety of products. The colours aren't quite right yet but can easily be changed. These flowers are printed on 300gsm eco natural recycled card which is great for both 2d and 3d work. They will be part of an installation and I have also printed a new bird design to go with them. I managed to fill the print rack with a whole flock of birds so have a lot of sticking, cutting and folding to do.

New! New Baby Cards

I am celebrating some new arrivals, Cute As A Button new baby cards! My favorite stockist, Here and Now in Falmouth, asked me for new baby cards quite a while ago but I couldn't find the time to do them until now. It's been a long wait so I am really happy to have finally finished and screen-printed this design. I like the idea of having different colours to choose from, so as well as the traditional pink and blue options I also printed the design in gender neutral green.

Bulgarian Boy and Girl

Last year I started work on a series of screen prints inspired by traditional Bulgarian dolls and costumes. I was very lucky that my Bulgarian friend bought me back some lovely wooden dolls from her summer holiday in Bulgaria. It was great to be able to see them in real life rather than just searching the internet for images. These two designs are based on the dolls and were intended to be part of the Masquerade exhibition last Autumn. Unfortunately I couldn't get them finished in time so I was really happy when the RBSA Gallery craft shop approached me about including my Polish and Bulgarian inspired screen prints in their Melting Pot exhibition. It was exactly the motivation I needed to get new cards and prints finished and ready for the first exhibition of 2014.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Multi Coloured Folk Trees

Other than the dreaded tea towels something else that's been giving me a headache lately is recycled card. I usually buy A4 white recycled card from Eco Craft, screen print two designs at a time, then fold each sheet of A4 card using a bone folder before cutting it in half to make two A6 cards. But since Eco Craft have changed to a heavier weight of white recycled card I've found it's not as easy to fold, every sheet has to be scored first which takes longer and doesn't look as nice. So I've switched to coloured recycled card which is a little easier to fold. And I know I need to find a new card supplier, it's on my to-do list.

Throw in the towel!

I haven't thrown in the towel but I was tempted to after having a terrible time screen printing tea towels and ruining most of them. I'm not exactly sure what the problem was but I tried using Speedball fabric screen printing ink and it seemed to block the screen after only printing a few tea towels. I've never had that problem with Permaset textile printing inks, I prefer their consistency to that of the Speedball inks. The colours also seem stronger, Speedball Magenta ink looked pale when compared to Permaset Aqua Mid Red ink which is what I usually print fabric with. So I ordered more tea towels and more Permaset ink and managed to successfully screen print more Folk Dancing Girls tea towels. Another thing that helped was Crafter's Companion Stick and Spray for Fabric. I used it to temporarily stick the tea towels to newsprint which kept them fairly taut and made printing alot easier. As if by magic there's no trace of the glue after printing, the tea towels just need ironing to fix the colour and they are good to go!

Russian Dolls

My friend told me about a Russian tin doll she had as a child in Bulgaria. I'm not sure if her memories of it were good, I think that she would have preferred the choice of the different toys I took for granted growing up in the west. The Russian tin doll clearly doesn't have the same significance for her as it does for me. To me it's a fragment of a wonderful culture very different from my own so I was excited to actually find the dolls on the internet. Even better than the dolls is the packaging they come in with it's beautiful Russian lettering and vintage style illustration. For my Russian doll I tried to keep some of the original elements but I also wanted to create something new. The actual tin dolls are red, blue and yellow with black outlines but I only wanted to use two colours so chose crimson and metallic blue. I originally screen printed them for Christmas but I'm hoping to continue with the theme and create a collection of designs inspired by Eastern European dolls and toys.