I'm sorting through images for my new website (hopefully launching soon!) and found these photos of several children's room murals I've done over the years. These two were for my neices...This jungle themed room is in a new baby's room in California.This subtle white line painted floral was in Hong Kong, for two lovely girls who shared a room.And this London-themed corridor and bedroom is in a suite of rooms in Mayfair...I love painting these murals, and always happy to take comissions!
This week I went to the Boroichi fleamarket in Tokyo. It has been held twice a year in the same place for over 430 years, and is an intangible folk cultural asset of Japan. I wandered, browsed and sketched, and bought a beautiful little sobachoko. When I got home, I did some watercolour sketches of it...I enjoyed it so much, I did a few more, looking at old sobachoko online for reference.And then made a little design of my own...
I always have trouble thinking of what to draw for my winter card, so I was happy to come up with a snowdome illustration this year. Here are some of my initial sketches. I was originally thinking of having a page of a differently shaped and sized snowglobes, but then chose to keep it simple and focus on just one. I wanted a cosy house in a forest, and did several little watercolours to experiment.
For the final artwork I painted a little house on a snowy hill with smoke coming out of the chimney, and then had it printed with an extra layer of silver foil to show the glitter inside the dome. I love that it sparkles as you move the card!
On a quick visit to Tokyo recently, I managed a little sketch of the desserts during a very pretty meal at Hannariya.It is a Kyoto style place and the dishes were as beautiful as they were delicious...
I've got these supercute robin and ivy blank holiday cards in my shop right now. There are 2 designs, and they each come in packs of 5.They're blank inside for your own holiday message, and come with matching white envelopes. I can ship them from either the US (now) or the UK (in 2 weeks time). Happy card-writing!
While I was in Hong Kong last month, I helped out my friend Alex, who runs Dogalicious, a healthy dog food company, at his stand at the pink dot festival. I offered pet portraits of people's dogs, in exchange for a donation to lap, the animal charity.I'd never tried this before, but most of the owners seemed to be quite happy with the results! Dogs don't stay still, so I had to capture their personalities whilst they wriggled...I did the portraits in watercolour and brushpen, each one in under 10 minutes!There is even a video of the event that you can watch here. Woof!
When we visited Yellowstone, we also went to the Grand Teton National Park, and I found it more beautiful than I could have imagined.We stood at the same point that Ansel Adams took his famous photograph, overlooking the winding Snake River, and I did a pencil and watercolour sketch.The wildfires in nearby Montana were making the skies a strange smoky texture, and many of the views we had were softened and mysterious. We went on an early morning river rafting trip and I managed to paint a few quick sketches of the passing scenery and sunrise. We saw elk, moose, bald eagles and even two baby bears.
I've designed some Christmas cards for my favourite animal charity again this year, Animals Asia. I worked on lots of different ideas, and three were chosen for the cards. I tried to make them cute, but not too cute...If you're considering buying some charity cards, please help us help the moonbears! You can buy the cards here. Thank you!!
A few weeks ago I spent a wonderful few days in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. I had thought it would be mainly geysers and fumeroles, like the famous Old Faithful...and the wildly colourful prismatic hot spring,but there were also wild and barren landscapes... and gentle green lakes with ducks and canoeists.But it was the wild open landscapes of places like the Lamar Valley, with wide skies and meandering rivers,where the buffalo really do roam, that filled my heart.
Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall's new River Cottage cookbook has just been published, illustrated by yours truly. I debuted a brand new illustration style, to keep the flavour of the illustrations I've done before for River Cottage, but adding a new dimension.I created a painted collage style, a bit reminiscent of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but with thicker paper, so there's a very definate shadow on the pages, to give the impression of depth.I worked with the art directer Lawrence Morton to come up with the theme for this book's illustrations, which is 'the preparation' for cooking. So I focused on the tools and equipment in the kitchen...and also the preparation of the ingredients themselves. For example, how to cut them...and how to select them...This wonderful book is available from Amazon US here and Amazon UK here. It would make an excellent Christmas gift!
Michael McConnell, at Fayes Bench Gallery in San Francisco, created an art project 'Friends That Never Met' where instagram friends would pair up and create a piece of collaborative art embracing their online friendship; a chance to work on something tangible in the real world together. So I had a good think and asked Melodie Stacey, an artist I follow on instagram and whose work I love, but who I've never met in person, if she'd like to work with me on some artwork. She said yes!
We each started a piece with a character, and posted them to the other to finish. Here is 'How do you do?' featuring my Mr Lizard. I noticed that Melodie often paints in blue, so I decided to do blue too. It's a mokuhanga print with watercolour, while Melodie painted in gouache. The artworks are all small-ish, and look wonderful on the wall in the gallery.
Melodie sent me several blue ladies to work with, so I chose one and decided to add an elaborate hat and avian friend. Here is 'Feather Lady'.I studied Edwardian headwear to get inspiration and added my hat as a collage in blues onto Melodie's painting.Social media is a great platform for artists to interact and inspire each other from all over the globe, and I really enjoyed taking this concept and adding a physical element to it. Melodie is in the UK, I was working in Japan, and the show is in California. I love it!
We finally managed to visit the French Laundry recently, in Napa, and I enjoyed every single bite.I did a little sketch of each course and item as it was served...The food was beautiful, as well as delicious, and it was a pleasure to draw. I can still taste the flavours now...
I watched the solar eclipse on monday, using eclipse glasses, and painted the various stages as the moon's shadow moved across the sun.From northern California we only got about a 70-80% eclipse I think, but it was still a wonderful sight.Maybe next time I'll manage to see a full one...
This weekend I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. It had forests, volcanic rocks, and beautiful lush meadows with wildflowers... There were tiny streams and creeks of clear icy water...and incredible mountain-top lakes, surrounded by snow.We watched the Perseid meteor shower and saw many falling stars.It was like a dream...
This weekend I did a little sightseeing around where I'm staying, in Kawaguchiko, Japan. There are a series of caves you can visit at the foot of Mt Fuji, formed from lava from the last eruption. The Narusawa Ice Cave is one of them, and is a National Monument. And also a little bit scary to get through due to the extremely low ceilings. The entrance is fascinating, as you go down under the floor of the forest, and suddenly it's literally ice cold, like you've walked into a fridge. The haze you can see in the photo is the air condensating between hot + humid and freezing! A walk in the sea of trees, along lava strewn paths, was also truly beautiful: it had my favourite combo of moss and ferns.I visited a site called Saiko Iyashi no sato NENBA, a recreation of a thatched village that was destroyed by a typhoon in the 60s. Each lovely building had examples of local crafts.And of course, a visit to the opposite side of Lake Kawaguchiko, to get a magnificent view of the sacred mountain, looking just like a Hokusai print.
I'm in Kawaguchiko, Japan, for the next few weeks, on a mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock) printmaking artists residency with mi-lab. It's in a beautiful location in a small town on the edge of the lake at the foot of Mt Fuji. I'm working on a series of prints, but in the meantime, here are some little sketches of the famous mountain.The views all around are beautiful, surrounded by mountains, wildflower meadows, and small farm plots, but it's Mt Fuji that dominates the landscape, whenever it appears from behind the clouds...
This week, I visited more museums, and happily spent time sketching. These were both taken in the V & A my most very favourite museum in the world.And then at the weekend, a visit to the Cotswolds. We stayed in an adorable house in the tiny village of Lower Slaughter, and spent time chatting and walking in the countryside. We stayed right by this lovely watermill, and I took an early morning walk one day...We went to the farmers market in Chipping Norton......where I managed to do a few watercolours, in spite of the drizzle.This is a little sketch of the house where we stayed. I loved sitting in the tiny garden courtyard...And then it was back to the city for my last week, and no visit to London would be complete without a cake and cup of tea at Maison Bertaux.
I'm in the UK for a while, and working hard, while trying to fit in some visits and exhibitions when I can. Here's a sketch I did today watching my niece and her dance group in the little town of Horsham. It was adorable, and sort of like going back in time.Whenever there's a chance, I stroll in the garden, and soak up the green-ness of the Spring. I could sketch plants and flowers forever...I've been inspired by some amazing exhibitions, sketching and making notes as I go. This one was at the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy. I love trying to work out how different prints were made, and what techniques were used... I especially loved the Josef Frank exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. So many incredible patterns and designs!I was incredibly moved by the Howard Hodgkin exhibition Absent Friends at the National Portrait Museum. I've always loved his work, but this show made me see the paintings in a different way...So much to do while I'm here. More London sketches next week!