Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Love In A Hurry

I love those super-fast jobs where you think you can't possibly squeeze it in, but you say yes because you love the sound of it, and THEN they bring the deadline forward to 'the middle of the week' rather than 'the end of the week'.

Sometimes the sheer speed I have to work at makes for a rush-job which, despite initial nerves about 'fitting it in', has the strange effect of making me a bit cavalier about the outcome. It's as if the brain says 'Well. They've given you three days, and you've already got ton of things to do, so you'll just have to do your best and they'll get what they're given'. It sort of...releases the tension, and relaxes the hands. Plus, there's no time to get nervous about it - I just have to bash on in.

Brown Thomas in Ireland are running this illustration for their Spring campaign, with window displays and ads, to coincide with Valentine's day. I'd been doing a lot of my more detailed work lately (here) and this job just happened to require exactly that. The letters are 8" high and all done by hand 'in one take' with no digital fudgery at all (except to change the colour to pink for the purposes of this blog!)

It also dovetailed nicely with an illustration for the Natural History Museum, coming soon to a blog near you.

This was, therefore, a joy to do. I made some of the flowers up but in the main, these all come up in Spring. On a dingy wet winter's day, this was just the tonic. Fine nibs, big paper, music on, tongue out...and relax.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pen dilemmas

I'm doing lots of detailed busy-busy pieces at the minute and am trying out new pens. It's always a dilemma. I'm so used to working with pens that give, bending and flexing and responding to pressure, that using anything else sometimes feels a bit odd. But when you want solidity from a pen, you need it to perform every time.

The exception to this is the Japanese double-ended calligraphy pen I have with one very pointy, rock-hard end which is a felt tip. It's brilliant, but I have only one left and I've just completely exhausted it on a recent job for the States. Hmm. So. Two of my current jobs involve solid blacks and silhouettes and tiny fine details, and the dip-pen nibs are a little too unpredictable for that. You know - a bit too much pressure here and they'll gleefully deliver a mercury-like mound of shiny blackness just where you wanted a discreet 3pt line.

So, I bought some ZIG Millennium pens in 03, 01 and 05. They're OK, nice and solid, but they rub out when I'm erasing the pencil lines underneath. And the new, better scanner seems to see right through the ink. Result: a non-consistent black which then needs some digital darkening here and there, which I'd rather avoid. Staedtler Lumocolours just bleed. Similarly their Pigmentliners run out very quickly but more importantly, they're actually a dark grey, and also rub out when erasing. I don't like their clumsy blunt end either, just where the fingers grip

In order to get this flat, responsive, solid clean black line I'm considering investing in some new Rotring pens, which I used extensively as a student (in fact my one and only tattoo was done with a 001 Rotring - by accident, of course) I remember their ink is very opaque and VERY black - and they're refillable.

But... pen geeks of the world: can you offer me any suggestions? Perhaps there's a rock-solid standby you wouldn't be without. I've sampled every pen type in the local art shop, and I'm still not armed with the right tool. Tips, anyone?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Crabtree & Evelyn Sale

Nice to know these posters are up in all branches of Crabtree & Evelyn, as reported to me by Jules at Central Illustration whose office is across from a branch.

Very pretty this, it's also on the website. Lovely people to work with too, it must be added!

Crabtree & Evelyn website

Monday, January 04, 2010


I've had 11 days without drawing, and observe: how clean the fingers! Even as I type this the middle finger is already blackened with ink under the fingernail from the first morning back 'at work', and the matching finger on the left is already nicely blackened from a pre-Christmas car door incident.

So, welcome to 2010! What shall these stained little digits produce this year, I wonder?


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