June roundup & goals for July

June roundup livelovedraw.com

June was a great month! I’m really pleased I started this little blog, it’s been a great creative outlet, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it so far. (If you’d like you can also follow along on bloglovin‘.)

Some of June’s personal highlights were enjoying a girly pamper day for my mum’s birthday and celebrating 10 years with Christophe. I shared some photo’s of my lovely pooch Elsie and lots of weekly snapshots including a location drawing afternoon at Regents Park. I also shared a few recipes from my fave cookbooks & websites on my weekly eats post.

Work-wise I completed a commission for Stella magazine and shared some behind the scenes pics of how the piece developed from pencil to publication. I continued working on my monthly Love-life food feature for Waitrose Kitchen magazine and finished working on a bread book for Running Press for Adrienne Kane’s new book. After drawing lots of delicious breads, I can’t wait to see the final book in September! I also started an exciting new book project that I’ll be working on until October that incorporates food + crafts = the perfect combination!

I got to do some teaching at a local school working with year 7’s on an illustration stylisation project, a portfolio session with year 12s and assisting them with their final projects on the human condition – I want to go back to art school! I’m excited about visiting Wood End Park Academy in July to work with the primary school pupils on a large art display based on beaches.

I wrote a series sharing some of my thoughts and experiences of starting out and working as an illustrator called Pencil Adventures. Some of the topics covered: how I got my first commission after graduating, how I got an illustration agenthow I approach working on an editorial commission and working from home.

Roundup JuneHere are a few little goals I have for July:

1. Plant some flowers, work on the garden outside the chalet (and maybe make a raised bed!)

I’ve wanted to work on the little garden area outside the chalet ever since the weathers improved, I love flowers but I’m a bit clueless and overwhelmed when it comes to proper gardening. If I tackle a small section I’m thinking I can build up to more gradually :)

2. Make a blurb book of summer recipes

I love food and cooking but I’ll go through stages where I’ll cook lots and then times when I eat rubbish convenience foods. In July I’d like to cook and prepare lots of healthy meals and document them in my own little book. I used blurb for the first time this month and was really pleased with the finished product (a photo book of Chris and I over the last 10 years.) I’ve been wanting to create my own recipes for a little while so this is the perfect excuse.

3. Spend as much time outside as possible

This one’s a straightforward one! Soak up the vitamin D baby!

I hope you’ve had a great month! What were your favourite moments of June? Do you have any goals for July? (If you’d like to share please click leave a reply above!)



Weekly eats

Eat green LimesI spent most of this week in my studio finishing up a project (& starting my new one!) so I did lots of cooking as I was indoors all week. It gave me some much needed break time in between work.

I made a few recipes from The Accidental Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer. Above are some ingredients from the Watermelon Salad (& below the finished salad.) Watermelon salad accidental vegetarianI also made papaya salad (below) and the Huevos rancheros (not pictured.) The eggs were probably my favourite as the recipe is so quick, simple & filling which is ideal for a weekday evening meal.Papaya salad accidental vegetarianMy newfound favourite breakfast this week – Bananas with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon on ryvita, delicious! I also had avocado with salt on ryvita.Things on Ryvita Earlier in the week I made a big batch of Mint iced tea from a Shutterbean recipe. It was a refreshing change to water and nice to have on hand in the fridge.Mint iced tea ShutterbeanI also made the Tex mex casserole from The Oh She Glows cookbook, which was sooo good! I made a big batch that we had for dinner a few nights in a row. I would highly recommend this meal. It’s so flavourful and full of wholesome ingredients. I forgot to photograph this one but be sure to check out the Oh She Glows website for more vegan recipes. I’m loving gradually working my way through the book.

It was definitely a good food week this week, I love making an effort in the kitchen and I find cooking really consuming (in a good way.)

Hope you’ve had a great weekend, here’s to a new week (and month!)


Working from home

There are lots of different articles online and in publications that offer tips on ‘working from home,’ I always enjoy reading other peoples advice on the matter as I’m still learning how to create a good work/life balance and make working from home work for me.Working from homeToday I thought I’d share some of the things that do and don’t work for me. I’ve had lots of different work situations over the last few years where I’ve juggled freelancing and working in various part-time jobs. At the moment I currently work solely as a freelance illustrator and I’m able to do so because I live in my parents’ garden. I sometimes still live month to month in terms of financially but it’s gradually getting better as I’m taking on longer and bigger projects where I get paid a larger sum that I can pay myself in wages per month, which helps to create a more stable income. It’s taken a good few years (so don’t despair if you’re starting out!) but it improves bit by bit and I get better at managing my money as I go too.Working from home livelovedraw.comHere are some of the things I’ve struggled with and learnt about working from home over the last few years:

Dealing with feelings of guilt 

In my experience guilt is a constant part of working from home/being self-employed and it affects work/life balance. I feel like it’s down to the fact that when you work for yourself it is your responsibility to get your tasks done and no one else will do it for you. This can create an unhealthy habit of wanting to work all the time or not be able to relax or switch off. It’s really important to me to make sure that I don’t neglect friends or family when a lot of my concentration is focused on work. I think it’s always going to be a bit of a challenge but my advice would be to set yourself work tasks and once you’ve achieved them allow yourself your social time, try to put work out of your head and enjoy your downtime. I try to break up work time into achievable goals that once I’ve completed I get rewarded (with a night/weekend off/time spent away from my studio etc) this helps me maintain a good balance. (Of course there are lots of times when this doesn’t quite work but we’re aiming for an ideal situation here!)

Establishing a healthy Routine and re-evaluating it regularly

This is the most crucial point for me personally. I’ve worked in lots of different ways in the past, the things that don’t work for me are: Waking up naturally (without an alarm,) working in my PJs, not making much effort to get ‘ready,’ showering etc, sitting in the same room in the same spot in the same air(!) all day, working different hours everyday and not talking to very many people during the day. Some of these admissions are quite embarrassing (but also quite true) it’s amazing how easy it is to slip into really bad habits when working from home. I turned all of these bad habits upside down to create a better (and healthier routine) by: setting an alarm for the same time everyday, having a regular morning routine – coffee, shower, breakfast, internet browsing and work, getting some fresh air and exercise early afternoon by walking Elsie and working set hours everyday with the same lunch break. These things might seem insignificant but evaluating and changing my routine has helped me SO much when working from home. I still struggle with getting enough exercise and movement in my daily life but it’s something I’m aware of and trying to work on.

Creating (and maintaining) a good level of organisation

Another really important factor to working from home is organisation. You may be lucky enough to have a studio space but if not it’s even more important to keep all work related items separate in their own place. (Even if you start off small with a box/container or two.) There are so many components to running your own business that keeping up to date and on top of everything is crucial and you can’t do it without being organised. I’m an avid list maker and I’m always making notes. I keep calendars for home, work for month, work for week and (now also) an editorial plan for this blog. I have a ledger for jotting down my finances and also keep a spreadsheet for each tax year detailing and recording my income. I have an address book (old school!) with clients contact details and business cards paper clipped inside. I also have drawers, files, folders etc. organising various paperwork/drawings/briefs. My advice would be to create a system that works for you whether it’s the old fashioned method of pen and paper, digital files/spreadsheets or both and use the resources open to you. I don’t really take advantage of apps and programs but I know there are lots out there. If organisation is something you struggle with perhaps research some tools that could assist you and fit with your way of working. If you know of any good ones or find any whilst researching let me know what you come up with!Working from home things I'm learningWorking from home is always going to be a learning experience for me I find it really difficult sometimes and love it at other times. There are so many pros and cons. My main goal is to create a sustainable and healthy work life where I feel good in body and mind and I think taking little steps towards this goal and constantly re-evaluating things that do and don’t work is important.

Let me know if you have any helpful tips or things that have or haven’t worked for you. My comments section only seems to be working intermittently (which I’m trying to fix) so if you would like to connect please drop me a line on Facebook or twitter, I’d love to hear about your own experience of working from home. Thanks for letting me share; I hope you enjoyed reading this.

Have a lovely weekend!



Lust list for pencil lovers

I thought it would be fun to put together a little list of items I’ve currently loving. From L to R, top to bottom… Lust list for pencil loversPencil me in flat by Jeffrey Campbell – I’ve been obsessed with these shoes ever since I saw them awhile back but they were always sold out…until now!

This Lloret pen case from Anthropologie won me over with the navy & red (and of course polka dots!)

These Hello weekend pencils by Amanda Catherine Des are currently sold out but you can check out her other cute pencils in her etsy shop I like the gentle reminders set too!

This pencil eraser ring is unique and functional, I would totally love wearing this ring by E for Effort and not having to worry about where I’ve put the rubber (…that I’m always losing!)

The Lisa Stickley classic pencils are so adorable in their little box. You can’t go wrong with a combo of stripes, dots & a good stash of pencils for drawing emergencies.

Lastly this Pencil case resin i-phone case by Kate Spade is gorgeous, such a sweet shade of pink.

I hope you’re having a great week! I’ll be back on Friday with my usual pencil adventures post with my thoughts on working from home: things I’ve struggled with, things I’ve learnt and a few tips too.



Waffle on…

Waffle on PerseverancePerseverance – Don’t give up

I wanted to share a little story today about my experience of applying to university and my thoughts about starting out as an illustrator.

I left school at 16 and worked in a  veterinary practice for two years. After this I went to college to study a National Diploma in Fine Art & Illustration. Illustration gripped me and I decided (something I didn’t think I would want to do) that I wanted to continue studying illustration at a degree level. I researched universities and visited them on open days and I fell in love with the illustration course at Kingston Uni. I prepared my portfolio and attended an interview which included a drawing test. The interview went well and all that was left was the wait to find out whether I’d been accepted.

When the acceptance letter arrived on my doorstop I eagerly ripped it open only to be faced with a huge disappointment – my application had been declined. I was pretty devastated at the time. (It sounds dramatic but if anyone else has been in a similar position you’ll understand how rubbish that rejection feels.)

It didn’t take long before I started wondering what it was that went wrong and wanting to gain feedback. I got my other uni letters through and I’d been accepted at my second choice. But it was my second choice for a reason. I didn’t want to settle for second best. I decided to email the course director at Kingston to gain some feedback. Kingston was the only uni I wanted to go to so at the least I thought I could get some feedback to work on for my re-application for the following year.

The feedback was the course was oversubscribed. There was nothing I could do …Over the summer I worked at a pub and in my spare time worked on improving my portfolio and setting myself self initiated projects to keep me drawing and feeling inspired. I emailed the course director a couple of times. Near the end of summer I decided I had nothing to lose so decided to send one last email. I wrote that the only uni I wanted to go to was Kingston and that I would apply every year until I got in. It was a bit of a scary thing to do but I wanted to put myself out there and explain that if there was any chance I could go on the course I would give it my everything. I didn’t want to waste another year.Waffle on coffee PerseveranceAbout a week or so before the course was due to start I was working a shift at the pub when my phone rang – it was a lady from the admissions department at Kingston and a space had become available if I still wanted it? HELL YEAH I DID! I was so excited (and quite shocked!) And that was that, I was off to Kingston.

It still surprises me now that I basically begged my way onto the course. I’ve never been the best at anything or over excelled or over achieved in a certain area I’ve always slightly struggled to get good at anything and I think that initial roadblock to get into uni has really helped me begin to tackle little by little this massive creative industry. It’s really hard and it does take a lot of perseverance – I think it can be easy to look at an artist you admire and see all the things they’ve achieved (I do it all the time) and sometimes even assume that what they’ve achieved has come easy for them. But it hasn’t. It takes a lot of trying, failing and trying some more to push forward in this job. As long as you have passion and motivation and you keep ploughing on you’ll get there eventually. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. Keep going until you get to where you want to be.

‘Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it,’ Julia Childs.



Weekly snapshots

Studio-boards …Some snapshots from my studio. The beginning of this week I worked hard on my projects so I could enjoy some time off midweek. My studio space has been chaotic (and my note scribbling and list making knows no bounds!) I’m hoping to share a little before + after of my teeny studio soon but first I need to organise the mess.Studio-notebooks Wednesday morning I popped into the local school where I’ve been helping out. I love the art classrooms! Pots of paintbrushes, stacks of palettes, rows of inks & other bits & bobs, so inspiring!Paint-palettesOn Sunday we bought Elsie a paddling pool and filled it with toys. It took her a little bit of time to build up her confidence to go in but once she did she loved it! She was picking all her balls out one by one, so cute. Elsie paddlingElsie paddling poolElsie playing in poolElsie shakingHope you’ve had a great week!



How I approach working on an editorial brief

As part of the Pencil adventures series on the blog I thought I’d share some info on how I approach working to different briefs. You can read how I got my first commission after graduating here and how I got an illustration agent here. How I approach working on an editorial briefToday I wanted to share a little about how I approach working to an editorial brief. I really enjoy the fast pace of editorial and the variety of projects and topics that you can be asked to work on. It could be anything!

Typically, I get a call from Alex or Steph my agents at The Artworks to let me know about a potential commission with info on who it’s for – which newspaper/magazine, when it’s due, the fee and some initial information on what’s required for the illustration.

I check my availability and confirm on the phone. Once the agency get the go ahead that I’m free to do the job they pass on my details to the client and forward any relevant info to me. I then have direct contact with the client usually by telephone or email where they give me a brief run down of the project: what the job is for/the article, things they want to include or focus on in the illustration and anything else that is important to the image or publication. After this there’s usually a period of emailing to and fro, the client will confirm what we discussed on the telephone and send a list of subjects highlighting the important things that must be included.

From there it is my job to research the subject – I really like this part as you learn different things about topics you might not have read about had you not been in the position where you have had to research it. I’ve had to research everything from politics to waxing backlash and have created illustrations for articles ranging from geopolitics and time travel to marketing illustrations for tampons. It’s certainly varied! After the research period it’s time to start brainstorming ideas and putting pen to paper. I usually create my roughs with either a biro or a thick pencil (things I would never use to create a final illustration) these materials help me to work quickly and not focus too much on details or decorative elements that aren’t essential at this time. I’ll send over the rough sketches checking in with the client that these are along the lines of what they were thinking of. There will be a bit of to and fro here depending on time frame discussing the ideas with the client and emphasising certain areas or taking things away. During the rough stage I’ll think about the overall space I have to work in, scale, shape and composition and this will inform the final illustration alongside colour considerations and other critique from the art director.Pencil adventures How I approach working on an editorial briefAfter the roughs have been ok’d it’s time to start the final. I work in Photoshop in layers and most of my client commissions are built up of individual pencil drawings scanned in and then layered in Photoshop alongside colour and texture. I use this process, as it’s easier to make changes if for example the client wants a different colour or an area of the illustration moved to the right instead of the left. Occasionally after the final is sent there may be a few alterations to be made (hopefully not too many.) Once the final artwork is approved it’s wine time (especially if you were working to a tight editorial deadline!) As I mentioned above one of my favourite things about editorial illustrations is the fast pace of the job which also means you get to see the published article quicker (which is good for impatient illustrators like me.)Pencil adventures How I approach working on an editorial brief2I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my process and how I approach editorial commissions! There can be a lot of variety within editorial not just in regards to topics but also with the timescale you have to complete the illustration, art direction – is the brief quite open or specific? The size, number of illustrations and lots more. Time is probably the most stressful component of an editorial illustration, the juggle between creating something that conveys the message with your illustrative stamp on and with something that looks rushed and ill thought out is challenging. The more editorial commissions you take on the easier it is to achieve something you’re proud of. I thrive on stress a lot of the time so I quite like the pressure of a fast turnaround. That being said my work isn’t the quickest to produce so it can be a challenge in some situations. I found setting myself self-initiated projects with deadlines that have to be met a really beneficial habit to get into. I can’t do anything without a deadline now! Good luck and have fun with it!

I hope you’re finding these posts helpful, if you have any questions or a particular area you would like to find out more about please feel free to leave me a comment (at the top by ‘leave a reply’) and I will try my best to answer any questions! Thanks for letting me share.



Waffle on…

Waffle-on-creative-conundrumsCreative Conundrums: What can we can do when confidence goes for a long distance run? (in the wrong direction!)

Initially I wanted to start a new column focusing on tips and ideas of how we can encourage our own and each others artistic adventures with creativity. I still want to do this at some point but for now I’ve decided that rather than focus on all the positive ways we can increase our creativity, why not look at the negatives that hinder our creative energy and ways to overcome negative feelings that we all have from time to time. I struggled recently with a creative block of sorts of my own and it got me to thinking why does it happen and how can I overcome it? I think in someways creative block is a perfectly natural way to feel as an artist and it can create a positive outcome. If it makes you wonder and think about the process then it means your learning and developing. I found this inspiring quote online by potter Whitney Smith “You can’t conquer boredom because its part of the process, the ebb and flow of being a creative person. A message from your internal self that you need to grow.” I think this is spot on and sometimes when we’re feeling down or bored it’s a signal for us to do something about it, to take action and to make positive changes.

Today I wanted to explore how confidence can affect our creativity. Confidence is a big deal as a creative and I think even more so when you’re self employed and you work alone. “Being self conscious doesn’t help you at all when you’re alone and trying to create something new. It does nothing,” Miranda July. As an illustrator working to a commercial brief you are creating work to a client or publication specification and you rely on art direction and feedback to inform you if you’re on the right track or not. You send the work off and you wait for the feedback to reassure you and make you feel confident in your design/illustration choices. This kind of cycle can turn into need for reassurance and filter into other areas of your creative practice.  For example, personal work. This is something I love about having an agent as I often send over new work for feedback and critique – it’s beneficial to have another set of eyes to look it over and get some expert advice. However, sometimes I feel I can lean on this and start to rely on other peoples opinions rather than my own judgement which then leads to a lack of confidence and self doubt.

Work or personal set backs can really knock your confidence and make you question your ability. If you’re feeling negative you start to convince yourself you’re no good. Your work isn’t any good. etc. etc. Don’t believe it. If you start to fall into this trap it’s a hard position to escape. When feelings of insecurity and self doubt start getting in you need to stomp them out very quickly. This can be hard and with added pressures of looming deadlines it can sometimes feel impossible and puts you under unnecessary stress. Waffle-on-creative-conundrums2These are some of the things that have helped me when I’ve been feeling like this:

1. Remember how far you’ve come. (Sometimes when you’re in a negative mindset you dwell on all the bad things and forget all the good you’ve achieved.) It doesn’t have to be the high profile clients you’ve had or the massive commissions you’ve scored. It can be the fact you’ve finally started (or finished) that self initiated project you’ve wanted to do for ages or you broke out of using that same colour palette you use for everything. Anything that signifies to yourself that you’re learning and improving.

2. Remember the reason why you are doing what you’re doing. The reason I became an illustrator is because I love to draw. When I’m drawing the whole world kind of disappears around me. I find it mediative. When there’s extra pressure for creating an illustration for a job and not just drawing a picture because you’d like to, you get sucked into worrying and everything else that comes along with it. If you forget why you’re doing the thing you’re passionate about, what’s the point in doing it? Focus on the positive reasons why you choose to do what you do and not what you measure it by. Presumably you draw because you love to draw and you enjoy the process not because you want someone else to like it. (At the end of the day it is your job and its what you get paid for but if you’re lacking in confidence try to remember that you do it because you enjoy it rather than for reasons of validation.)

3. Ignore it. This seems like bad advice even as I write it but hear me out. If these thoughts of self doubt and lack of confidence are plaguing you and trying to stop you from working you have to try to block them out. As Bree Van Der Kamp from Desperate Housewives said “whenever I feel my emotions getting the best of me, I simply picture an empty box and I take whatever I’m feeling and put that in the box.. and then I picture myself putting the box away in a big empty closet and closing the door.. Then..  if I have time.. I go back and empty the box and deal with the emotion.. in private.. like a lady.” (Yes, I know I just quoted a fictional character from an American television series!) It might not be the best way to deal but if you’re doubting your abilities midway through a project you really just have to get on with it and power through. Take Bree’s advice and address the issues after the deadline. By that point they might have gone. Along the same lines as ignoring it another piece of advice would be to just get on with it. The hardest part is starting and thats often when negativity shows up so by getting on with it your channeling your thoughts into the doing instead of the thinking. Oh and also if you’re working on a commissioned project remember they commissioned you for a reason!

I hope you may have found these tips helpful, please feel free to share above (by clicking leave a reply) if you have any other ways you tackle feelings of lacking confidence. It’s always nice to hear your not alone with these thoughts. Thanks for reading!Waffle-on-creative-conundrums3



Weekly snapshots

Plants-Regents-park Water-fountains-at-regents-park Nail-varnish&roses Regents-parking-location-drawing This week I tried to soak up as much vitamin D as possible as the weather has been so lovely. On Monday my little studio was so warm I worked outside on my laptop with Elsie sunbathing next to me. On Tuesday I met a friend and we headed to Regents Park for some afternoon location drawing. We spoke about drawing & uni (among other things!) and we have vowed to meet once a month to do some location drawing. I did a portfolio workshop that morning with a group of AS level students who are getting ready to start applying to university. I took in three of my portfolios – one from college, one from uni & my current one. It was a bit cringey looking at my old work but it was really refreshing at the same time – it made me miss being in art education and made me evaluate how I work now compared to then. I feel my work was so much more free and creative back then – maybe that’s a normal feeling as your work changes? I’ve made it a goal to try and be more creative and maybe go back to my roots a little in my personal work & also to experiment more with different media (I’ve been in a long term relationship with a certain mechanical pencil for 5+ years now, it may be time to start flirting with other pencils…)Roses-at-Regents-park Regents park was so beautiful in the sunshine. Later that day I took Elsie for a walk locally and the combination of sun, sparkling water & vibrant greenery everywhere made my heart flutter, I’m starting to fall in love with Nature just a bit.AquadromeI’ve been making lots of plant-based meals this week. On Wednesday I made an adapted version of The Oh She Glows walnut, avocado & pear salad with marinated portobello caps & red onion (below left.) I left out the red onions (as I didn’t have any) and added in some sunflower seeds & made my own dressing out of extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, honey & salt & pepper. It was so tasty! I don’t think I’ve ever had a salad with grilled mushrooms but they add a great meaty texture to a plant based salad. Yum! Thursday I made a similar salad but added in some sliced strawberries when I tossed the salad with the dressing. They went a little soft so I think next time I’d just add them on top afterwards. I’d like to make this one again with a balsamic dressing. I also made my first (proper) batch of homemade houmous, again from The Oh She Glows cookbook. I’ve made it loads before with chickpeas & mayo, this version with tahini was so much healthier & better tasting. Salad-kickOh-She-Glows-houmous&vegOn Sunday we met my younger brother for lunch & drinks at his local. I love the last picture of him and his girlfriend holding hands – they’re so cute!WineLili&Karl-holding-handsNext week I’m looking forward to some busy work days early in the week then midweek I’m taking a couple of days off with Chris – We’re celebrating our 10 year anniversary, hurrah! Hope you have a great week.