Painted Lady – Nature Illustration

Butterflies are, to me, flying works of art. The beautiful colours and patterns of their wings are an amazing example of nature’s beauty. Their amazing metamorphosis is also a complex example of change.

Painted Lady butterfly for blog(feathered)

The image of a butterfly has often represented freedom and they were drawn on the walls of where prisoners of war were confined during the war. The image of a butterfly has also been thought by many civilisations to represent the soul, and butterflies in the home are thought by some to be the souls of dear-departed relatives, letting them know that they are still with us.

I painted the above illustration of a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui, one of the Cynthia group of colourful butterflies) for a friend’s wedding present. It was produced using watercolour paints, inks and other paint mediums that I had to hand. I particularly enjoyed doing the quick wash background and painting the centre of the Echinacea flower. The name Echinacea is a derivative of the Greek word for ‘sea urchin’ and looking at the picture it’s quite clear to see why. My friend’s very young daughter commented that the centre of the flower looks like a sleeping baby hedgehog nestled amongst the petals. The whole creative process took a couple of hours from sketch to final painting. I had the final artwork mounted and gift-wrapped to present to Lynne and Ronnie on their ‘big day’.

I wasn’t entirely sure after writing this text if this was going to be the last post for this month. Then, minutes later, my friend, Judith, in Carlisle, sent me a text to say that she had had a red butterfly in her house. Knowing nothing about my intended blog post, she just thought that I would be interested. She saw it as a good omen and a sign that a loved-one had called upon her. I went to my study to e-mail her and say “that was a coincidence”, as I had just written the above blog post only hours earlier. Imagine then my surprise – when I went to my study to find that a reddish-orange butterfly was fluttering around the computer screen… It brought to mind a quote from Albert Einstein, stating ‘Coincidence is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous’. It does make you think…

Advertisements

Phoebe – Girl’s Birth Picture

Hello.  I’ve been asked on many occasions if I create my birth illustrations with the use of images and computer graphics.  I always state that my illustrations are done-by-hand (the old fashioned way with paper and pencils!).  I thought it might be useful to illustrate (pardon the pun) the process that goes into creating the illustrations that I produce.

STAGE 1 – CONCEPT AND SCAMP
This is the concept/ideas stage.  Once I know what theme the parents prefer (such as kittens, jungle animals, spacemen etc), my brain goes into overdrive and I try the different characters (in this case – kittens) in different positions around the letters of the child’s name.  Once I have played around with the characters, in my mind’s eye, I scribble a very quick ‘scamp’ down on paper – showing different aspects of what I hope to include in the final illustration.

Image  (Stage 1)

STAGE 2 – SKETCH
Following on from the ‘scamp’ stage, the idea is sketched out around the proposed lettering.  I nearly always sketch in blue pencil (I must have some royalty in my family tree!) and refine the ideas and the characters as I go.  Once Stage 3 is completed, the scamp and sketch can both be discarded.  Please note that I try different expressions and ideas out around the edge of the paper.  I also give an indication of colours.

Image

STAGE 3 – DRAW ILLUSTRATION
The final line-drawing is produced for the illustration.  If there are any parts that I wasn’t totally happy with at the sketch stage, these can now be re-drawn.  These will nearly always be minor adjustments, such as, the kitten’s expression has changed on the letter ‘b’ and the budgerigar has moved position on the second letter ‘e’.Image

STAGE 4 – COLOUR THE ILLUSTRATION
This is the enjoyable part (usually) after the ideas and sketching has been done.  I normally indicate (on the scamp and sketch) certain colours that I want to see in the final illustration.  The mother of Phoebe, suggested she would like a gingham design to the lettering and that the budgerigar should be of the green-and-yellow variety.Image

STAGE 5 – PERSONALISE THE ILLUSTRATION
I hand-draw the lettering that personalises each illustration.  The colours of the lettering can often ‘mirror’ the colour scheme of the child’s nursery/bedroom, or, more often, I just select certain colours from the main body of the illustration, whichever is preferred.Image

DETAIL OF THE ILLUSTRATION:

ImageImage

Once the final illustration is complete, it’s  just a case of mounting and framing the illustration ready for hanging.  This breakdown has taken me much longer to do than I expected, but thankfully it’s raining ‘cats-and-dogs’ here today in Great Britain, so there was no chance of me getting into the garden anyway :0(.  Thank you for taking the time to read this (I hope it makes sense…).  Michael

Thoughts On – Inspiration

A client, who purchased one of my child’s birth pictures, recently asked me “Where does your inspiration come from?”.  I am not usually stumped for an answer, but I found myself looking rather blank.  Later, when I got home, I walked into the living-room and I could see exactly where my inspiration comes from.  Looking around the rooms in the house, there are loads of little ‘characters’ peeking out from behind books and cushions and popping out from behind lampshades.  It would seem that I have unconsciously created inspiration around me.  This has been done with the help of friends, who have presented me with ladybirds, mice, owls and ducks.  Just to prove my point, I have taken a few photographs of some of the inspirational items in my home…

Inspirationforblog3

So, really it’s a big ‘thank you’ to my family and friends for providing me with all of that inspiration…