I'm in Hong Kong at the moment, working on all sorts of projects, and loving being back after far too long. I had breakfast at the retro Hoi On Cafe with a friend and did a quick sketch..I adored the glossy red booths! I visited my favourite sort of hardware store......and wandered the evening streets, admiring the old and fast disappearing Hong Kong.
I went to watch Phasers on Stun a Star Trek improv group in San Francisco and I absolutely loved it! The actors was so versatile, playing starship crewmembers, aliens, animals, and sometimes even playing two characters on stage at once.This is the crew of the USS Golden Gate, exploring new worlds.I sketched throughout the show, trying to capture the strange situations, wonderful conversations and fantastical characters. My very favourite drawings are these little simplified characters I made of all the actors...Try and go and see them if you can, they have more shows this month. Live long and prosper!
My friend Nathan asked me to create some illustrations for his wedding invitations, and I came up with several ideas for the three different event cards. Each card had a slightly different level of formality, so I tried to accommodate that.I also drew a little vignette of their names for the cards, that could be used on various stationery. I was asked for 'rustic but stylish', as the wedding was in Yosemite National Park, so I thought about the time I'd been there, and concentrated on the sweeping views and sequoia trees. The first event was on the lawn at the Wawona hotel, where I drew the lovely floral arrangements in the glowing early evening light.The wedding ceremony took place on the lawn of the Ahwahnee hotel, with the glorious mountains as a backdrop, on a perfect summer day.As a wedding favour each guest was given a waterbottle with my illustration of Half Dome on, but as a special thank you, Nathan and Strawn gave me a set of glasses as well, and I couldn't resist taking this picture. Congratulations to the happy couple!
We went to Yosemite National Park at the weekend to attend a wedding, and I loved being surrounded by the trees in the wonderful clear air.We stayed at the historic Wawona hotel (now renamed the Big Trees Lodge), and completely relaxed.We went up to Glacier Point twice, the first time at midnight to watch the Perseid shower, and the second time during the day. The meteor shower was one of the most magical things I've ever seen: the night was totally dark and all the stars in the milky way were visible. And then the stars fell, some brightly, some quickly, and some leaving a trail of sparkles. During the day the view was spectacular, with blue mountains and valleys all around as far as the eye can see. Truly a marvel of the world...
Last weekend we went to see The Iron Stage doing a Game of Thrones improv night in San Francisco, it was amazing! I did lots of sketches while I watched...I said hello to the cast afterwards and showed them my drawings and they posted them on their facebook page, hurrah!Next month, Star Trek improv!~
We went very old-school on a recent trip to Las Vegas, and tried to rediscover that classic vibe from the movies. We went to see the Showstoppers musical at the Wynn (where I sketched in the dark)......and sat drinking cocktails while an old-timey lounge singer crooned. We gorged ourselves on the traditional (but indeed excellent) hotel buffet...
I've just come home from a wonderful visit in New York and Washington DC. I love NY, and it felt wonderful to meet friends and wander in all my special spots... I showed my portfolio, ate fun dinners, and saw some inspiring exhibitions in both cities.
I was super excited to see the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, the White House, the Museum of American History and the Capitol.I was especially moved by the Jefferson memorial, as he's my favourite US President of all!
I spent a few days in Vienna recently, and finally managed to eat at the famous Cafe Central with its glorious arched ceilings.I mixed it up a bit, and then went for cake at Simoni's, a very modern cafe, and just as delicious.The big revelation for me was the visit to the Kunsthistoriches Museum. I couldn't believe how many truly amazingly beautiful works of art there were.My favourites were this portrait of a lady by Rubens...and this absolute gem by Vermeer. It gave me such a lovely warm feeling.Vienna is such a beautiful city, even the hotdog stands are like works of art. This photograph is my tribute to Hopper, and features Durer's Hare on the roof.
I just got back from a lovely weekend on the Wiltshire/Somerset border in England. We stayed in a bed & breakfast place surrounded by rolling green hills,and I did a few sketches, and took a few photographs, and just took it easy. This is a watercolour of Cley Hill. There is a fantastic legend about the hill (read about it here) and it's also a famous UFO hotspot! Woo!
I'm in London for an early Spring, and enjoying the flowers in the changeable weather. I've been experimenting with mixing watercolour and pen and ink, and drew some peonies for my mum.I visited Petersham Nurseries with my parents and had a lovely lunch, and I wished I could take every single flowering plant home with me...
Hope everyone is having a relaxing winter break. I just got back from a little visit up the coast to Point Reyes National Seashore, which was chilly but oh so beautiful! We visited the Point Reyes lighthouse, and saw grey whales on their way to Baha.In Inverness, right by the water, the sunrise glow with mist over the water, was pink and golden and like a dream...Limantour beach was wild and empty, and I lay on the sand in the sunshine and painted the grasses in the sand dunes.Really, really, can't wait to go back again and discover more!
From Kumamoto, we travelled by scenic train to Kagoshima, with its famous active volcano Sakurajima. We visited up close, riding the boat across the bay, watching nervously at the smoke puffing gently from the top...We spent a day further south in Ibusuki, and visited the famous sand baths. At Yamakawa it was calm, almost tropical, and we saw another famous mountain called Kaimondake, with its perfectly conical shape.The skies we saw over the waters were truly magical through the train windows, as we travelled along the coast.We ate at a tiny restaurant, that specialised in local style yakitori, and the regulars were amazed to see us. These sorts of places are what make travel amazing...From there we made our way to Kurokawa Onsen, passing by yet another active volcano, Aso san. At Kurokawa we stayed in a lovely traditional ryokan and tried many different sorts of onsen baths. We rested, and walked in the Autumnal mountains. And then back we went to Fukuoka for one more evening of tasty food. Here's a lovely tempura place we found, dating back to the 1930's!And then on to Tokyo, and home.
This week I have been in Kyushu Japan, starting my travels by train around the island. I love travelling by train here, it's so efficient and also somehow charming. As you get further into the countryside, the trains become smaller, more unusual and fun! We started in Fukuoka, eating at yatais, and we're now in Kumamoto, at an adorable minshuku guesthouse in the countryside. I drew the view from our two windows.The rice has just been harvested, but the fields are still beautifully green, resting until the summer.
I just got back from a quick trip to New York, where I worked on a lovely project for Dr Oz The Good Life magazine. I can't show you what it was yet, but here's a sketch I drew on the photoshoot day. I also drew the model several times, in various of her outfits...The view from the studio was gorgeous, so New York!I had a fantastic dinner one evening at the Brooklyn Diner, and sketched while I was waiting. The waitress was so happy with the sketch that she gave me a bag of delicious pastries to take home with me! I love New York, I really do. I'll be back soon, just you wait and see...
I've designed a pattern of coral and seaweed for Spoonflower's fabric competition. The brief asked for designs reminiscent of those found in a botanical sketchbook.I based my watercolour drawings on seaweeds I'd seen at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, and references from various old illustrated botany books, like this one.Here are a few of the original sketches, including some that didn't make it into the final design. I added pencil calligraphy to the sketches, in a variety of styles, and developed a repeat pattern in soft shades of red. The design has now made it to the semi-final round, hurrah! This round is open to public vote, and voting is open until the 2nd of September, so please vote for it here. I'd love to see this made into a fabric, and to develop it further into a collection you can actually buy.
A few weeks ago I went to a fascinating book talk at Omnivore books in San Francisco, about Darjeeling tea. Author Jeff Koehler spent time in the various tea gardens there and learnt about the tea, how it's picked and processed and made into 'the champagne of tea'.You know I love tea, and everything about it, and now I can't wait to try Darjeeling again! You can check out his book here.