Thursday 25 September 2014

A little bit of Nature

Hello chums, back again. No new drawings this time, although i am working on something at the moment, you'd better follow me on Instagram for sneak peaks! No today i thought i'd tell you all a little bit about one of my favourite places on this here planet that we all live on. Fortunately this place happens to be about a fifteen minute walk from my house, which is handy seeing as i love it so much!

Those of you that have followed me for a long time will know that i'm always rambling on about how pretty everything is here on the Isle of Man. It's no secret that those of us lucky enough to live here are constantly surrounded with lovely scenery and sea views from pretty much every direction (if you walk up a hill high enough this is definitely true!)

I'm sure i've mentioned before that I myself live right next to Ballaglass Glen (just one of the island's beautiful Glen's). Well it's been a while since I had a walk through the Glen by myself so I packed some fruit (for snacks!) and went off on a wander along the Public Footpath last thursday and again today this afternoon.

It was a tiny bit chiller today than the sunny, balmy day i walked last week but both days gave similar views of the lovely Glen. Despite being a Winter lover I know there might not be too many warm sun filled days left so it seemed as good a time as any for a walk, seeing as i have very little else to do all day other than to sit in my room reading, painting or watching netflix!

To get to the Glen from my house you have to trudge up a hill to turn a corner then sort of follow the path back on yourself, over two wooden gates, past some fields of Horses until you reach a lovely tree tunnel at the end of which you'll find the entrance to the Glen, just across the electric railway tracks. Walking the path is like being in a fairytale story, at any moment it feels like you might spot a fairy whizzing past your head.

The path to the Glen is often overgrown and uneven but it's a nice walk, especially when the blackberry bushes are full of fruit waiting to be picked, the path is lined with blackberry bushes taller than me. My fingers were stained purple-black by the time I actually reached the Glen! The berries were delicious.

When you walk down the steps into the Glen the sounds of the outside world are cut off, the trees keep out the nearby noises of traffic and cattle, as well as most of the sunlight, except for a few dappled patches collecting on the leaves and mossy rocks or whatever funghi have managed to stake a claim.

Colour blooms there, in the leaves above and below, even the sky seems bluer glimpsed sporadically through the branches. The ground is alight, a riotous carpet of fallen leaves glinting in a myriad of colours underfoot. It's even better once Autumn has fully taken hold, sinking its fingers into the earth, when the sunlight catches the leaves everywhere looks wreathed in flame.

I've grown up visiting the Glen, living so close to it I would often find my way there on weekends, in school holidays or after school if I needed somewhere quiet to think. I often feel like it's a sanctuary for me away from anything I might think or feel at home. It's a place to escape. And i think we all need a little place to escape to every once in a while.

No matter what troubles I carry with me on the way there, they begin to evaporate and dissipate as I walk deeper into the trees, climbing down to hop across the rocks toward the riverbed beneath the bridge where the water is quiet. It's as though the river carries my worries away with it as it burbles past, so that by the time I reach one of the louder roaring cascades of water further downstream my worries have been washed away.

I think one of the reasons i like it in there so much is because everything feels so old, so ancient. I know next to nothing about trees and woodland but i know that the Cornaa river has carved it's way through the Glen for a very long time, according to the Glen's history "The rock is grey flagstone formed from sand and mud deposited over 400 million years ago."

From the path I choose to take, you follow the Glen downwards with the river, up and down, under branches, over rocks, descending gradually until you pass through a shaded trail of horse chestnut trees, so naturally I took a moment to collect a few conkers on my way past!

The path continues to slope ever downwards through a rocky trail strewn with fallen leaves (and conkers!), if you look carefully you'll spot a Christmas tree growing amongst the Holly, although right now it's only decorated with browning fallen leaves and veiled cobwebs. There are benches at which to stop and catch your breath but you mustn't quit until you reach the clearing and the Wizard.

I said a quick hello, asked him about his books, and left him a conker.

Now usually i turn around at this point and take the other path back through the Glen but today I felt like maybe I could go a little further. All that was waiting for me at home was photoshop and a stack of books which somehow seemed less inviting than a walk in the patchy sunshine. If you carry on past the Glen you can follow the Coastal Footpath to Port Cornaa, which is precisely what I set out to do.

The coastal path is just as pretty as the Glen path, albeit slightly more uneventful. You're surrounded on both sides by towering trees, old stone walls and rolling fields. The wind stirred the leaves around my feet as I walked, following the winding river toward where it meets the Irish Sea.

It's a bit of a hike (for the eternally un-fit such as myself it is anyway!) but it's worth it for the views, and the peace. There are hardly any distractions on the walk, save for the sound of the odd tractor or a dog barking, carried on the wind from a nearby farm. It takes me about an hour to walk from the middle of the Glen to the beach at Port Cornaa, but it's a lovely walk and it definitely clears your head. Which is something I tend to need to do, a lot.

The beach itself consists entirely of pebbles (okay, and the rare patch of dark sand), so it's not the prettiest or most comfortable of seaside spots in which to spend the day, it is however incredibly calming and peaceful. In a tiny enclosed bay you can just sit and listen to the waves wash in and out, tracing their path across the rocks. All you have is the stones at your feet, the sea and the sky, stretching on for eternity. It's sights like these that make me thankful i live in such a place, it might be a bit grey sometimes and it's not exactly tropically warm, but it's my island home, and i'm very proud of it.

Anyway, i perched on the stones for a while, chomped down the tangerine i packed in my bag and let my feet rest a little before gearing myself up for the walk home. It's a lovely downhill walk to the Sea but almost entirely uphill on the way back, not that i'm complaining, the colours called out to me as i walked, my head cleared thanks to the fresh sea air and i was a placidly smiling fool by the time i made it back through the Glen. Nothing calms me down as much as nature.

Through the Glen i climbed and scrambled up, tripping over the gnarled tree roots, slipping on the fallen leaves, ambling onwards and upwards until i reached the path home. It's strange but somehow the blackberry bushes seemed even more inviting on the walk back.

Fortunately they were everywhere, so it seemed rude not to help myself to a little bundle, they were surrounding me, what was i supposed to do, just ignore them?! I think not.

In the end I made it home and had a nice cup of green tea + the blackberries mashed onto a slice of brown toast (trust me, it tasted AMAZING!) and now here I am a few hours later writing this all up for you to read. I know I tend to ramble on a bit but I hope you enjoyed my recount of the walk, it's the only way I could think of to let you all experience the Glen with me.

Next time i visit i'm sure the weather will have turned dreary, Autumn will tighten its grip and winters claws will be beginning to scratch their way through the trees. Living so close to such a place allows me to witness the ever changing colours, sights and sounds. So expect another glimpse into the Glen over the coming months.

And for now i can't think of anything else to say, i'm tired but happy and for now, that seems enough.

thanks for reading, until next time, cheerio!

Monday 15 September 2014

Candy Girl

Hello dearhearts! If you read the last post then you'll know i've been away for a week. I actually got back last Wednesday evening but i've been verrrrrry busy trying to organize my room (and my life) as well as attempting a massive clear-out of old stuff I no longer need!

Anyway it's taken me since then to think up a new blog post + to conjure up another new member of the Candy Doll Club... sort of

here she is

i know, i know... she's tooth achingly sweet! What did you expect?!

now when I say 'new' what I mean is 'reworked', since this one is technically a re-working of an old Xmas Candy Doll illustration I completed last December.
Back when I drew the lineart (and yes, I did DRAW most of this one on paper first) I couldn't think of a theme or colour palette for her so I ended up coming up with the Candy Cane polka dotted madness that you can see above.

So yesterday evening I was scrolling through some old illustrations and I thought about how much I liked the pose so wouldn't it be fun to turn her into a proper CANDY girl?!

So I did.

For this radical redesign, I was actually inspired by v brilliant French Blogger and style maven extraordinaire Katia aka LazyKat

I've followed (in a non stalkerish sense) most of her online profiles for a few years now (her Instagram is particularly epic - iamlazykat) and i'm always amazed by and insanely jealous of her pastel pretty style and very gorgeous (and highly enviable) wardrobe of clothes and accessories!

She always posts fabulously put together outfits and she's basically a real live human version of a 'Candy Doll'!

As well as being an all round Pastel Babe, Kat also has heaps of candy cute tattoos including a few My Little Pony ones, hence why the latest illustrated member of the Candy Doll Club has her two fave Ponies on her arms + another on her shirt.

And i chose My Little Pony because come on... who doesn't love some classic My Little Pony?!i grew up with stacks of the toys (i've probably got some up in the attic still) and i used to love watching the cartoons on TV.

so BIG thanks for the pastel inspiration Kat! merci beaucoup, tu es magnifique!

* * *

in other slightly less colourful news, i had a WONDERFUL time away visiting family in Coventry, a really lovely week which included a particularly laughter filled visit to Leamington with my two darling nieces Madison and Daisy

i managed to snap this pic of them in a Fancy Dress shop, they always cheer me up no matter what!

and... i can't think of anything else to talk about so that'll have to do for now!

so until next time, whenever that may be, cheerio and thanks for reading!

Monday 1 September 2014

Buzz Buzz

Hello dearhearts, back again. It seems like I might be able to churn out a post every fortnight, so for now i'll try and stick to that. As per usual not much has happened over the past few weeks, I really don't do much or go anywhere anymore.

So instead it's another post debuting my latest illustration. And yes you guessed it, it's another Candy Doll, so without any further ado, here she is...

Oh honey honey! She sure was fun to work on, i've spent the past few evenings (and some of the days) finalising the colours and I think i'm about as content with it all as i'll ever be. I'm also fairly sure that her hair turned out this way because it's how i secretly want my hair to look! Pink fading into Blue = BEST!

And only one tattoo! Initially the plan was to cover her arms in inked sleeves but by the time all the colours and patterns were down it was looking a bit busy so I thought this girl didn't need the tattoos creeping up and down her wrists, so she just has the one, a quote by Victor Hugo - "Life is the flower for which love is the honey.”

She's also a lot brighter than most of the recent girls, the first colour draft had her in pastel rainbow shades with frosted pink lipstick. But once I altered the hair colour I knew she was going to have to be decked out in bolder hues than candy pastels.

recently people have asked me why my Candy Doll girls always have the same or really similar expression on their faces and the answer is kind of simple, A) artist laziness, it's easier to duplicate the same face over and over again than to keep coming up with new ones, B) it keeps them looking similar and part of a series, which is the whole point really.

The idea is that they're this bunch of anonymous girls, different but with similar intimidating stares regardless of their hair, skin or outfit colours. They stare out at whoever is looking at them, so sometimes the easiest way to get that across is to keep the face the same (or barely different) for each girl. 

It's also because my method of working has changed a lot since I first started drawing the Candy Dolls (in 2012) back then I would draw the entire lineart on paper then scan it in and alter it in Photoshop and Illustrator, now I still start with a pencil sketch but it's usually just spaced out bits and pieces on a sheet of A4 and I often don't know what i'll use it for until I actually start working on it. At which point i'll add in all the necessary elements until I have a finished piece.

For example, (sorry if you're not interested because I'm going to explain it anyway!) the latest illustration was almost entirely drawn in photoshop using the trackpad on my macbook, the only part I drew on paper was the hands and wrists, the scan of which sat on my desktop for over a month before I randomly starting adding to it last Friday evening.

Here is the image I spotted on pinterest that originally inspired the piece + the lineart I drew and scanned in next to it on the left.
So as you can see I didn't really have much to work with to begin with, I just knew that I wanted to draw a girl holding up a frame, peering through the gap. So when I finally started adding in a body shape, a face and a cascade of hair, I didn't know what the theme would be. It wasn't until I drew in stripes for the skirt (to make a rainbow) that I thought about bumblebees. Ironic for someone who has a massive fear of bees and wasps and doesn't like the taste of honey!

Regardless, I added in some flowers to mask the frame and it seemed to work so I tried out the honeycomb pattern and this is how she ended up. I also spend an inordinate amount of my time in the early hours of the morning reading stuff on Buzzfeed so who knows, maybe it subliminally left the word 'buzz' flying around my mind.

As you can see the end lineart is dramatically different to the original sketch/scan. I like seeing what i can accomplish on a computer though, it makes me feel slightly less troubled by my crappy real-life drawing skills! I mean i'm still drawing the illustration, just not with an actual physical pen or pencil.

But that's just how I work now, i've always been a clumsy drawer and I find it easier to get a neater line on my macbook than on paper with pencil and pen. I've tried using drawing tablets but I can't get as good an effect with those as I can with my trackpad. It's probably just my stubbornness to change, hopefully one day i'll find it easier to draw looser and messier, i'd love to have a go at a comic but it would take me even longer in my usual drawing style.

Anyway she's now available in my Society6 shop on tees and bags and cases and stuff + there's currently Free Worldwide Shipping on all the cool stuff in my Society6 shop for the rest of the day!

So what else has been happening, well like I said at the start, not much. Oh but I was nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge by Mama Boylan, which I dutifully did, here's proof of my drenching! i can confirm that there was half a bag of ice in the water which came from the garden hose, brrrrr!

I also took the opportunity to donate to ALS and the MND Association (for the UK). I know it's a gimmicky thing to do the challenge but it's for a really good cause that's increasing awareness of the disease and it's amazing how much money has been raised so far to help with research and people living with the disease.

the only other thing of any note was that I got 8 new books last week, and new books are always cause for excitement in my world! I've already read 4 of them so I should probably save the other 4 for my trip to Coventry this week. I can't wait to see my family over there. It will be nice to get away for a bit, if only for a few days.

Here's a snap of the bookstack on my desk.

Speaking of my desk, it's getting a bit out of hand! I keep rearranging it but the 'things' are beginning to stack up into dizzying towers of clutter, I think i'll have to invest in a new (and much bigger) desk soon!

Although I still managed to find room for this little fella, Norman the novelty Cactus, such a dapper chap!Seriously i cannot begin to convey how excited i was when i spotted this freaking cactus while shopping in town. It's a cactus wearing sunglasses. it has a moustache and a party parasol. it is BRILLIANT!

Ok well y'all can probably expect a post during my stay in Coventry or one once I get back to the island, either way I will hopefully find something to post about over the next couple of weeks. I'll no doubt be posting a heap of pictures to my Instagram feed while i'm away, it's probably where I post stuff the most, so if you want to keep up with me on my trip then I suggest you go click 'Follow'.

Alrighty then, time for me to shut up.

So until next time, thanks for stopping by!