Day Eight

Location Drawing

Pretty sad to be saying goodbye to this project. I have enjoyed it so much more than I imagined I would, and even when it was bitterly cold and blowing a gale I was still learning so much. I haven’t done a huge amount today as I had to pop back to uni to sort out my digital stuff, and I spent an hour drawing a couple of ducks and then making an illustrated thank you letter for the staff.


Illustrated thank you letter for the staff. Cos they were awesome.


And I also did a bit more on the library drawing, although sadly didn’t finish it :(




So I guess that’s that! Cue running around like a lunatic trying to get everything ready for deadline on Monday.

Day Six (and Seven)

Location Drawing

Ok, so I forgot to update yesterday, but considering I was in yet another tutorial in the morning and then had lots of work to catch up on for next week’s double deadlines, I only had about an hour at Saltram in the afternoon. So here are yesterday’s drawings:


More cafe doodles, this time with my charcoal pencil. And I saw a real life actual pirate!! With one of those triple pointed hats!


One of the requirements was for a completely tonal drawing … no outlines. So I drew a chair.


I started drawing the welcome centre with my lovely fine liner but then had to go and pick the rugrats up.




Day Seven

Today went much better. It’s the first full day I’ve had to draw since last Friday, so I took full advantage and tried to get some proper stuff done.


Cafe doodles.


More cafe doodles. Different media


The cafe counter.


cafecafe2 Welcome centre, cafe and outside seating area. Dip pen and indian ink. Will be making these into an animation … somehow.


Vertical 1:8 inch fineliner drawing of the Chapel Tea Room.


Five drawings, 2cm x 2cm. Fineliner, also depicting the Chapel Tea Room


Last but not least, half-finished library room. Really pleased with this so far, and it got lots of compliments from the volunteers. Yay!

I’m looking forward to my last day tomorrow, but I really wish we’d had at least another week. I feel like I just haven’t had enough time to fully explore the place and show it in all its loveliness.






Day Five

Location Drawing

Day Five

Today has been another short one, as I had a tutorial to attend at uni, which went on about an hour longer than I expected it to. Anyway, here are the goods:

Cafe drawings

Cafe drawings



Statue in a nook on the outside of the house.

Statue in a nook on the outside of the house.

2cm x 2cm drawing of the library shelves

2cm x 2cm drawing of the library shelves

Half-finished ink pencil drawing of a lovely quiet pond area behind the tea room.

Half-finished ink pencil drawing of a lovely quiet pond area behind the tea room.

Day Four

Location Drawing

Day Four

Today was good, but annoyingly the day was broken up as I had to attend uni for a pretty pointless exercise halfway through the day. But never mind, I have made a few drawings that I’m happy with today, and a couple that I’m not so happy with.



Duck-watching at 9am. I was in a funny mood so added some sound effects to the page …



The duck pond. Not particularly happy with this one but I think you can tell what’s what.




Just a few cafe sketches again. Really enjoy sketching in the cafe. And no one ever seems to notice me staring :D


I really loved the adoring gaze between mother and son at the top, and I hope I’ve captured it. The two at the bottom looked very bored.


These two were talking very animatedly.


The house. Really hate this one.


This is my favourite from today. Had a look in the library and spent more time ogling the books than I did drawing.


Just an antique newspaper stand.

I’m hoping I’ll have a better day tomorrow, but I won’t get a full day again as I have a tutorial. Grrrr.



Day Three

Location Drawing

Day Three

Today was fruitful but bloody COLD!!! I left at about 3 feeling slightly dazed and confused, having been battered by freezing cold wind for several hours and wishing I’d had the foresight to get into the house and warm up first thing. Nevertheless, here’s what I did today:

Rough sketch of the cafe

Rough sketch of the cafe


A group of ladies at a table


Really crap drawing of a lady sat on a chair. Looks like she’s balancing on one foot!


Just a few people in the cafe


Quick coloured pencil sketch of the cafe.



A tree that reminded me of the Whomping Willow

A tree that reminded me of the Whomping Willow


Really quick sketch of the path through the woods. Loved the sloping hill.


This was a labour of love in the bitter wind but I’m super-pleased with the results. It depicts embankment road and the river plum. Measures 1″x8″


Brush pen drawing of the arches.


Dog walker on the woodland path. Charcoal pencil.




Not even slightly anatomically correct but I kind of like the quirkiness. I was trying to make a single line rather than sketching.


One of the tasks was to draw in a circle, so I did one freehand (you can probably tell) and drew the lovely pathway in the gardens. I wanted to show the scale of the trees and mercifully, just as I was drawing a trio of ladies walked down the path.


So there you go. Now I’m going to collapse in a heap and bang my head against the desk.



Day Two

Location Drawing

Day Two

Day two has been pretty miserable, weather-wise, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have a poke around the house. I had so much fun drawing, and making friends with the dear old volunteers has been great. They seem to appreciate having someone artistic there, and apparently I’m the only person they’ve ever seen drawing bits of the house, which surprised me. I told them I’ll be back next week and they seemed very enthusiastic, so I will definitely have to give the house another look. Also, the library room looks very inviting, so I think I will have to spend a bit of time getting acquainted with it.

Here are today’s offerings:

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Cafe people again. And my friend’s little lady.

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My friend and her little girl at the window watching the ducks.

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My view from my table. I wanted to capture the light and I think I did it.

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The Salloon. I wanted to show the vastness of the room, so decided to do it portrait. Charcoal pencil on sugar paper.

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The grand staircase.

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The four poster in the chinese bedroom. Made by Chippendales apparently. Brown pencil in my sketchbook.

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Irregular shape. One of the tasks was to draw within an irregular shape, so I found an archway and drew the view of the courtyard through the archway. Coloured pencils.


Some of the period costumes in the costume room.

One thing I’ve learnt from today is that I need a lot more than five hours to get to grips with this house. It’s a vast cavern of regal delights.



Day One

Location Drawing

Day One

Today I started an awesome drawing project for one of my modules at Uni, in which I have to choose a place (could be a coffee shop, launderette, nightclub, or somewhere like Dartmoor) that I’ll spend the next two weeks drawing. 

I had a few places in mind but Saltram House, a great big old house in Plympton, set in beautiful woodland and with spectacular gardens, was my best option. Not only does it offer a wealth of greenery to sketch, but the house itself boasts huge rooms and the most marvellous antique furniture, paintings and antiques. And I have a membership, so don’t have to pay for parking or entry to the house. Aaaand it’s about a two minute drive from my house.

And it has a cafe. That was probably the clincher for me.

So enough waffling from me, here’s the goods:


It all started with a cup of tea.


Some sketches of cafe visitors


The cafe queue


Some duck sketches and those big fat turkey things.


The big six-trees-in-one tree.


Tried a bit of sketching as I was walking. That wasn’t easy.


Very basic sketch which eldest daughter told me was rubbish.


Watercolour tree, big mossy thing.


Possibly my favourite drawing of the day. Lovely twisted carcass of a fallen tree, with beautiful mossy bark and patches of different colours.

I feel like my drawings from today have shown the journey I’ve taken, through the cafe, into the courtyard where the duckpond is, along the path to where these magnificent trees stand. It’s a lovely walk anyway, made all the more lovely when I can appreciated the beauty of nature through sketching.




Artwork, Book reviews, General scribblings, Uni

I realise it’s March now, but I haven’t written anything since the beginning of Feb, so I thought I’d provide an update for those who are interested.

February saw me handing in the picture book module (which included the animatics and GIF) and I was actually pretty sad to let it go. I’ve had so much fun with it and have loved the experience and the learning curve of figuring out how to make a picture book from start to finish. It has been a huge amount of hard work but I’m hoping it pays off when I find out my results.


My desk before tidying it.






And after …


Here’s my GIF. It’s a rainbow moustache and each frame was hand-painted in Gouache. It was a labour of love and I love it.

We’ve also done a bookbinding workshop which was amazing, and I’m so pleased with the outcome. We learnt how to make a simple exercise book with very basic stitching on the spine. We then went on to make a hardback book with stitched sections and endpapers. And lastly we made a book using coptic binding. It looks utterly beautiful and I’m really happy with how mine turned out.


Coptic binding, so lovely to look at and so easy to do.


Hardback book with end papers and hand stitched sections.


All four books together.


Now that we’re into March I have another impending deadline which is scaring me a bit more than the last one. I’m currently writing a 2500 word essay on the connections between feminism and Disney and it’s quite possibly the most interesting thing I’ve ever researched. No joke. There’s so much more to it than I ever would have imagined.

As part of my research I read We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and it is phenomenal. I didn’t expect to be quite so blown away by it – her anecdotes are moving and maddening, and her elegant, eloquent writing is just wonderful. It’s made me want to read her other novels (Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah) and find out why she’s won so many awards.

I also managed to finish Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, recommended by my fave Andrew Smith. I won’t include it in my Books I Love series as I didn’t love it as much as I have others, but I did very much enjoy the wackiness and I can totally see how Mr Smith is inspired by him. I felt the whole thing was quite indulgent, as it would be if you were writing a novel for yourself for your fiftieth birthday. Vonnegut placed himself within the novel, not just as another character, but as the creator, the fiction-writer who is creating this very piece of work and breaking the most important rule in novel-writing (acknowledging that this is a work of fiction or making reference to yourself as a writer.) I loved this idea, particularly when he slotted himself into a scene at the climax of the book and had one of his main characters interact with himself as the novelist. I also loved the many instances where he writes things like “I made this character do this, because I can.” It was a completely unexpected technique, but one that I welcomed. I wish I could have read it in longer sittings than my 10 minute bus journey every morning, but with my deadline it just wasn’t possible. Regardless, it was a very fun read and I would like to read more of his novels, if only just to see how he writes when he’s not being self-indulgent.

Anywho, better stop there as it’s getting late and my eyes are heavy.

Peace out! x

Reflection. Or narcissism?

General scribblings, Uni

Narcissism isn’t a very welcome trait, but I need to utilise it right now to make sense of things. I’ve felt for a long time now that I’m doing a shit job in a lot of areas.

Housework is a major one, and it really is the bane of my life. If I could get a fairy to do it all for me – doesn’t even have to be a fairy, an ogre in an apron would do – I would get one in a heartbeat. It serves no purpose other than to eat into my very limited “me” time, which I would normally use to finish uni work or try and flex my creative muscles and maybe throw some doodles out.

Motherhood is another …
Being a mum is such an honour for me, and it’s something I’m passionate about and which brings me unrivalled happiness. But with all the stresses of uni and work and all the other crap that flies through the fan of life, I find myself becoming resentful and unloving … and unloveable. I think it’s this area of my life that I occasionally struggle with the most upsetting to think about. The fact that my choices and my struggles with uni and life in general have an impact on my children makes me feel like I’m being terribly selfish. The fact that I get to spend more time with my uni friends than I do with my children makes me feel like I’m the worst mother in the world, and for a large part of the day my youngest is being looked after by a lady who is essentially a surrogate mother. (A wonderful woman, nonethless.)

Uni is great. I love saying that. Going to university has given me back all my vitality and I feel like I actually have a direction now. And saying that makes me feel like an even worse mum. Having something that I enjoy so much whilst I spend so long away from my kids is so so tough, and makes me feel insanely guilty, but when I think of the scope this opportunity is giving me, the keys to all the doors I’m getting out of it, I’m almost certain it’s worth it.

Work is ok, but I feel like it would be better if I could cut my hours. Being given the go-ahead to cut my hours when I applied for uni was a big factor in my decision to accept my place, then to be told that cutting my hours would be bad for the business (because apparently employees mental health is of lesser importance than their ability to remember which books we’re trying to push this week) and that I could either keep the hours I had or quit, well that was a bit of a kick in the head. I do love my job, I love the people and the feeling of being surrounded by books, being able to talk about books to my heart’s content, but when I’m spending a full week at uni and then both days working, sometimes I feel like it’s too much. And then I feel like the only thing I can do is quit. But why should I feel like I have to? Why should I be backed into a corner where my only options are mental instability through exhaustion and overwork, or quitting? Why is that ok? It sucks. It’s a really shitty, sucky situation and it’s made me feel very angry and resentful.
Guess the plus side is that the anger can be channelled into creativity in some way or another.

Need to keep reminding myself not everything is crap. Nothing is crap really, just my outlook on it.

I shouldn’t really be complaining, though. I made these decisions – I own all these consequences and I have to suck it up. I wanted to do a degree to give myself direction and to stop myself from sitting on my ass all day long, neglecting the housework. And I’m so glad I did. I’ve met some amazing, incredible, talented people on my course and I’ve learnt so much from it already.

Some light in my life comes from my uni friends who are constantly telling me I’m amazing for juggling all the stuff I am. It might sound egotistical but I need that. I need those affirmations and that support. It’s pretty much what keeps me going. That, and always having snuggles from my girls waiting for me when I pick them up.
That is what I have to look forward to at the end of each and every day and it is the best feeling in the world.


Animatics and everything else.

Artwork, General scribblings, Uni

One thing I’ve learnt from my current module (Creating and Understanding Sequence) is that my brain works much better in picture-book format than it does in animation. The first part of the project involved making a picture book from a chosen text, which I enjoyed immensely, and the second part took it a little further into the realm of animation.


One of the finals from my picture book. Written by Ben Clanton, who owns the copyright.


Another final from my picture book.


Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea  of animation, but when it comes to actually creating it, well it just makes my brain very tired and I found myself spending a ridiculous amount of time procrastinating. I did get it finished eventually, but I’m feeling kind of bleh about the final outcome (although I’m patting myself on the back for actually remembering how to use Adobe Premier the day after the workshop.)

^ This is my animatic.

I don’t think I’m cut out for animation, despite the fact that the storyboarding was kind of fun and allowed me to be fairly loose with my drawing, but I guess that’s all part of what going to uni is about – finding out what I’m good at and realising that I’m not going to be amazing at everything I try. Maybe that’s the hard bit for me, because I always want to get things perfect, and very rarely like to practice because my practice pieces don’t look perfect.

Another thing I’m thankful for is the wonderful input we’ve been getting from Emma Carlisle and Rose Forshall – both are brilliant tutors with a wealth of knowledge of the children’s book industry. We’ve also had the chance to work with Gary Day-Ellison, which I found really helpful but a lot of my peers didn’t. He can be quite blunt, I’ll give him that, but his advice to me was really helpful and considering the fact he’s very successful in the world of publishing I feel he’s a handy contact to have.

Next week we’re starting work on an animated GIF, which is the final part of this project and I have no idea what to expect. It’ll be based on the chosen text, so will probably feel similar to the picture book and animatic, and then we’ll have assessments and that’ll be the end of it. I’m going to be sad to finish the picture book stuff but excited to start on something else, whatever that may be.

Anyway, bit of a pointless blog post, but aren’t they all?

Peace out.