New illustrations from The Family Calendar Cookbook

The Family Calendar cookbook cover optionHello! I’m back today to share some new foodie illustrations from The Family Calendar Cookbook by Kelsey Banfield. It was published yesterday by Running Press. The book is laid out in seasons and shares lots of tasty recipes and crafts to make and do as a family. The above illustration is a concept I worked on for the front cover. Unfortunately this cover option wasn’t used in the end but I thought I’d share it all the same.
Foods of SummerI created around 100 illustrations for the book including the cover, some typography, a chapter opener featuring a dressed table for each season, crafts and lots of drawings of food and recipes. These are a selection of some of the illustrations I really enjoyed working on. Above are drawings for zucchini tart, peach salsa and iced tea.
Cheese boardThe book includes a section about cheese and wine with tips to create your own cheese board, snacks to serve with it and wine pairings.  Chocolate & vanilla cupcakesFood is a big passion of mine so it was fun to read Kelsey’s recipes and translate them into illustrations. The double chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting above sound amazing.
three layer cakeIt feels like a real honour illustrating a book where so much time and effort has gone into it’s creation. I’m really grateful to the wonderful team at Running Press for commissioning me especially Ashley who was amazing to work with and to Kelsey for giving me the opportunity to illustrate her book!

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My weekend in pictures

Drinks in Old StreetThis weekend was such a good one! My sister was back from a two week holiday so on Friday we went out for dinner for Thai food and to have a catch up. We decided to ask the waitress to order for us and it was a great decision. The food was so good. We went home and had a few thai beers and watched some crime documentaries (it’s our thing!) On Saturday I met my friend Nadia and we went into town for a spa afternoon to have a long overdue catch up and celebrate her birthday. All of the photo’s posted are from our day out on Saturday. Margherita bar tulipsWe had such a nice girly day. We spent a few hours relaxing in the spa jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and having our treatments. We both got neck, back and shoulder massages which were lovely. After our pampering we walked up to Shoreditch and visited a few bars to have some food & cocktails. I had the best time and even though most of our photo’s are just pics of us two, they will be nice to look back on.
Spa dateThe weather turned out to be super lovely and we even got to have some drinks in a roof top bar. Hurrah for sunshine!Nadia & IOn Sunday Chris and I met some friends and we went to watch the London Marathon and support our friend Phil. It was such an incredible experience seeing all the runners and we managed to spot Phil and cheer him on. The applications for the 2016 Marathon open next Monday and I’ve decided to apply. It’s just got to be done. Eek!

I hope you had a good weekend and the start to your week is going great :)

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My love affair with drawing…

Summer PatternIf you saw my last ‘Confessions of an illustrator,’ post you might’ve seen I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. I’m doing lots of things to try and get me out of it: we went away for a few days, I’ve been training for my half marathon and I’m going to Renegade at the weekend to see lots of inspiring art and illustration. I’ve also been working on some personal work. I created this summery pattern inspired by two of my friends Scarlett & Connie. I planned on having it printed onto fabric to create some illustrated products but unfortunately the place I found in London is stopping fabric printing so I need to do some more research. Does anyone know of a British company I could use? It seems pretty hard to come by and it’s put a hold on my illustrated dress idea too.

It’s been fun to do some drawing just for fun again. Some how, some where, in between working on commissions and getting wrapped up in creating artwork for briefs my love for making personal illustration work has lost it’s shine a little. I love drawing and I can’t help but think about the advice we were given at uni ‘Draw, draw, DRAW.’ It feels like I’ve almost stopped drawing. To put a complete contradiction in there of course I do still draw. I draw what I’m told (to a degree) or I’m working within a guideline or under direction. I really enjoy and love working in this way but occasionally I realise it’s been a while since I’ve drawn anything for fun and then it becomes more of a job and less of a desire which is hard when creativity is involved. Does this make any sense and does anyone else feel like this?Fly high

I think the bottom line is drawing is a great love of mine. I’ve probably quoted this before somewhere on the blog but as Julia Childs said ‘Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.’ When it comes down to love and passion you can fall hard and then after time you have to work on it to keep the passion alive. That’s how I feel about illustration. I’ll never be without it because it makes me happy but it can be frustrating and it can be work to keep the passion alive. Is that a really bad thing?…I don’t know… but that’s just the way it is for me.

Over time I’ve been given and read some great advice that inspires me to keep going, I thought I’d jot it down here as a reminder, you mind find it inspiring too.

Draw what turns you on.‘ I was given this advice by Chris Wormell a fellow Artworks artist after talking to him about his career whilst getting the train back from an Artworks party. He probably has no idea how much of an impact that little chat had on me and how inspiring it was to hear about his work (that he’s been doing since the 80’s.) I guess that’s his secret to longevity in the illustration industry and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it ;)

‘Do one thing well it’s enough.’ I first saw this quote by Marion Deuchars as a poster on the way to the Quentin Blake exhibition at the House of Illustration. I think it’s a good reminder not to try and do too many things at once and to focus your energy on strengthening one thing. It’s also affirming because: it is enough. Sometimes it doesn’t always feel this way.

‘When most I wink then do mine eyes best see.’ I’ve loved this quote for many years and after just googling it now re-discovered it’s part of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. To me this quote sums it up, that dreaming is the best way to see.

It’s been really nice to have this blog as an outlet for my ramblings and I hope my thoughts don’t seem too negative sometimes. It’s good for me to write about the roller coaster of being a freelance illustrator and just putting my thoughts to ‘paper’ helps me to gain a bit more perspective. If you read this long post thank you, it means a lot to me.

I hope you have a happy weekend whatever you’re doing :)

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My weekend in pictures

Road trip to the New ForestThis weekend was so much fun. It was Easter hols and Chris’ mum Deb’s birthday so we took a little road trip down to the New Forest on Sunday to meet up with Deb, John & Paul on their holiday and stay for the evening with the pooches.Brooklyn blackout cakeI made Deb a Brooklyn Blackout cake from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for her birthday, it turned out pretty good (and survived the car journey!) The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is my go to now for birthday or celebration cake recipes. New ForestWhen we arrived on Sunday we went for a walk, the scenery was so beautiful, I think it’s good for the soul being surrounded by nature and the weather was lovely. As we drove into the New Forest I loved seeing the wild horses and barren land. You feel so small but yet part of something so big. It’s made me want to do more road trips and visit more places in England (with the dogs too.) It’s so easy to jump in the car (thanks Chris!) and discover a new place or visit somewhere old that you have small memories of from years back. Ice creamOn Monday we visited Bournemouth, Durly Chine and Sandbanks. It was Lilly’s first time on the beach and she went crazy and literally had the time of her life running round in circles in the sand, meeting children, trying to eat sea weed and paddling in the sea with Elsie. Me & ChrisThe weather was amazing (Despite the leather jacket & welly boots which I really didn’t need!) It was so sunny Chris & I both caught the sun a little. I’m so excited for summer now and lots of new adventures.
Chris & dogsLilly kept us all entertained and loved digging as you can see below… She was digging for ages and spraying sand everywhere while Elsie was sunbathing next to her. At one point she managed to kick a load onto John who was lying on a blanket. Oops!
Lil diggingOverall it was such a lovely weekend with sunshine too, (yay!) I’m already dreaming about some new weekend adventures… I hope you had a lovely weekend too.

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Confessions of an illustrator – The High highs and the Low lows

Confessions of an illustratorLast night while I was chatting to my mum the subject of work came up. This time of year I always get myself into a bit of a pickle which then leads into meltdown mode. Seasonally it seems that between January and April it’s my quietest time of year and a combination of that and struggling working from home recently has left me in a bit of a dilemma. Don’t get me wrong unfortunately this dilemma is on a rotational basis, it’s nothing new. In fairness I’ve been working on some great commissions lately and have some work booked for next month, it’s not doom and gloom by any means. The in-between work times are a lot less than they used to be but because I do seem to have seasonal quiet and busy times I find it hard when I’m not working and I’ve been struggling with motivation lately.

Doing a job you love can be a really hard thing at times because although you’re working at your passion, passion can be, a…well passionate thing at times. What I mean by this is when I’m working, keeping busy, being creative and making illustration I feel satisfied and fulfilled. In contrast to this when I’m struggling with less work I’ve been feeling low, de-motivated and left with a million doubting questions.

Lately I’ve really missed connecting with people and I’ve got myself into an unhealthy cycle of not seeking out inspiration. I mean if I’m going to sit in the chalet all day not talking to anyone inspiration isn’t going to fall from the sky and hit me so I need to be more active in allowing myself to soak up inspiration from different places and different people.

Just talking to my mum about everything really helped me to spark some new ideas and think up some ways to use my time creatively and wisely. I’m in a funk and it’s not an unusual thing, I know it will pass but I need to make it happen. I just wanted to share these thoughts here as working as an illustrator can at times be lonely so if one person reads this and feels like they can relate, it’s reassuring.

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Living with a puppy – 2 months in

Elsie & LillyIt’s a little over 2 months since we first got Lil. We’ve learnt a lot since we got her and it’s been really fun (and challenging at times too.) Having a pup is a lot harder than I (very naively) imagined and having two dogs is completely different to having one. Whilst writing this post Lilly managed to find some kitchen roll and shredded some of it, she’s been barking at Elsie to play with her after they’d already been playing for awhile and now I can hear her chewing a rawhide. That’s all within a 5 minute period ;)Dogs playingGetting another dog has changed things up quite a bit and thrown a few unexpected obstacles our way too. One of the biggest things is probably the training (the time you have to invest, cost and all the rules.) There’s so much to teach a little puppy and so much for them to take in, training is something that happens everyday naturally plus I’ve been taking Lilly to a puppy class on Saturdays and Monday evenings. She learns really quickly and the puppy training itself is going well, I know the time we put in now will pay off when she’s older and hopefully we’ll have a lovely well behaved dog :) I mentioned before that Elsie is also having training sessions to overcome her protectiveness of Lil around other dogs. This was obviously our main obstacle and something we didn’t foresee happening and because of her issues her training has been really quite strict. When we first got Elsie she had just had a litter of puppies taken away from her so I understand her want to protect Lil but it was getting stressful for me as she was showing signs of aggression towards other doggies and I really didn’t want that. Her training is going really well so I’m hoping we can combat it and I think as Lil gets older that will help too.Doggie cuddlesOne of the things that surprised us most was also how quickly the two dogs bonded. You can see from the pics they really love each other. They sleep next to/on each other, play together (a lot) and clean each other, it’s so sweet and it developed very quickly. When we got Lil from the Dog’s Trust they said she needed to live with another dog and it’s very evident that she really did. She adores Elsie and Elsie is really laid back towards her especially when they play together. Lilly often follows Elsie around and loves to be near her and vice versa.Puppy mischiefBecause of the various training it’s meant that currently I’m walking the dogs separately – I don’t think I’ve ever done so much exercise! It’s good for me but it’s definitely time consuming. I think it’s actually been good to give Chris and I time to develop our bond with Lil though as it’s nice to have time without Elsie and to see her character shine through. It’s harder to bond with a second dog and as we are obsessed with Elsie (if you didn’t already know,ha!) it’s good to have the solo time too. She’s been going on short runs with me where she literally runs by my heel or in front. The other day she was running ahead and kept stopping and waiting for me, being really playful, it was almost like she was motivating me to keep going, very cute. A few days ago at training we let her off in a secured area to practise recall (which so far she’s been brilliant at, touch wood!) and she got so excited she did the whole running round in circles thing. It was so funny! We love having her and I’m excited about all the future adventures we’re going to have with them both. This weekend we’re taking the dogs to the New Forest which should be fun!

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