The croquis collection

As a welcome break to talking about the endless amount of packing I seem to be avoiding and the upcoming (and super exciting) move to Ely in two days (who’s counting?!), I wanted to share a few fashion-y pencil sketches that I did in the summer.

This is my croquis collection (so far):

croquis

I sketched them across a couple of evenings while I was taking a break from watercolours, as I wanted to get better with the pencil before I carried on with the paintbrush. It was great practice for scaling and shaping the body and it was a great way to mimic on-screen outfits as I was watching tv. My fav is number four!

I did them in a little notepad and the plan was to fill the pad with similar sketches, but I found them quite repetitive after a while and moved on to yet another sketchpad – I wanted to add faces, colours and actions rather than just poses.

I’m going to get into the habit of adding to the collection every so often, in the hope that after some/a lot of practice, I’ll be able to sketch a quick fashion croquis in minutes, and then eventually I’ll create my own little army of pencil croquis. [cue evil laugh]

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Week 4 – 5 days of boxes

This week started with the best bit of news – we’ve got our little house!

As strange as it seems, we have ended up with the first house that we looked at, which I illustrated a few weeks ago (post here); it was one of 4 houses that we applied for (and got turned down for). Obviously the rental gods took pity on our soon to be homeless state and worked their magic to get us that first little house we set our hearts on!

So now the packing begins in earnest… except I can’t quite decide where to start.

OK, I have made a small start, we have 7 crates filled with DVDs and books, but the book case is still full of art materials. Then there’s just the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, airing cupboard and the rest of the living room to go. Looks like the boyf has enough to keep him busy while I’m at work this week!

So in 5 days we’ll say goodbye to our great view over the thames, our 5min journey to Bluewater, the super quick and comfy high speed train and our first home together, and in the meantime, we’ll be surrounded by boxes.

boxes

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Week 3 – Country girl at heart

Week 3 of 2014 was mainly spent on the m11 – travelling back and forth between Kent, Ely, Norfolk and Suffolk and then heading back down the motorway to Kent again.

However, an illustration of the inside of my car (as lovely as it is), or the view out of the windscreen of endless roads, lorries and road signs wouldn’t be the most exciting thing to draw let alone look at.

So, instead I present to you… a mallard duck.

duck

Perhaps not an obvious choice, but this weekend I went to see my Gran and we went to a pub on the edge of her village for lunch.

The view from our little table by the window was so lovely. It was a clear, fresh and dry day, the sky was streaked with clouds, the river running past the pub was high but still and there was a small gathering of ducks doing their best to guilt slices of bread from passers by.

As we enjoyed our lunch the sun slowly set behind the fields on the other side of the river, spreading a peachy orange tint across the horizon. But even more than the beautiful setting, it was the soft quacking of the ducks as they waddled past and the urge to scoop up their round little bodies and stroke their soft looking feathers that reminded me I’m a country girl at heart (and I probably shouldn’t be left unsupervised with wildlife).

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It’s all about me!

When I first set up this blog I knew for sure that I didn’t want any photos of me splashed across the about page.

I felt that including a picture of me would take something away from the site – it would be less Bethany Robyn, and more, just me: Bethany, Beth, Betbet (take your pick, I answer to all three).

However, the more posts I add, the more I feel that I need to add a little more of me to the pages, after all, the first thing I look at when visiting a new site is their about page. I want to know who’s writing and why they are writing.

So I give in, I’m adding a bit more of me to my about page and adding a picture (it’s there now if you want to have a peek at the updated page). But, I haven’t abandoned my original plan completely; this is still a photo-free zone.

So… this is me:

about me

Obviously, I’ve taken a bit of artistic licence… I can only dream that one day my hair will take on the colours of autumn leaves and I will spend my days reading books as I lean casually against a tree! And, I am still a little hopeless at capturing people’s facial features, but let’s just gloss over that slightly!

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Week 2 – events life

This week held my first event of 2014. I spent most of the week onsite at glamorous Birmingham, where we had a conference and gala dinner for 700ish people.

As well as my usual role of supporting the production and logistics team, I coordinated the gala dinner – a task I found a little scary to say the least! We had set and staging, sound checks and rehearsals, ice sculpture table centres and various performers.

The technical and catering teams were amazing and so experienced, so the evening pretty much ran itself, but it didn’t stop me being incredibly nervous that something might go wrong! I mainly spent the day double checking that everything was in place and on time, and the evening enjoying the entertainment!

The room looked great, especially the ice table centres. I can’t share a photo (due to client logos everywhere you look), but here is a little sketch to show how they looked.

Table centres

(Apologies for the dodgy quality of my images – my scanner and camera seem to be conspiring against me!)

We had a wreath of lovely flowers (no idea what kind!) to girly up the table a little bit, branded menus and some sparkly red stars scattered across the tables to pick up on the lighting around the room. The table centres, themselves, had lighting that was all linked together, meaning all sixty tables were in sync as the lighting changed.

All in all, the evening was a success and the clients were super happy. The band that closed the night with a two hour set were brilliant, nothing beats a live band!

The only thing I would do differently next time, is perhaps wear different shoes… I was in agony by the time I was walking back to the hotel, but I suppose that is the punishment for wearing shoes stolen from my Mum!

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Week 1 – a little house hunting

Week 1 of 2014 was rather more stressful than I was expecting – I’m hoping this isn’t a sign of the year to come!

After roughy 6 months of checking rightmove religiously and waiting for the start date for the boyf’s new job, yesterday we started our house hunt in earnest.

We went to have a look at one of the cutest little houses, but despite having been through this process before, we appeared to forget how competitive the rental market is! We were one of 6 couples to view in the last two days and half had already put in their application forms before we’d even set foot inside. So although this little house is in the perfect location and ticks almost all of our must-haves, we are now at the mercy of of the rental gods.

On top of this, we got a call Friday afternoon to let us know that viewings for our flat had been booked in for yesterday, which meant that kitten had to join us on our little house hunt. So at 3pm yesterday, me, the boyf, kitten and her litter tray bundled into the car and headed to the motorway. It was a 90min drive in endless rain and drizzle and at the other end, I spent 10minutes trying to convince the kitten to use said litter tray. She however, decided she would much rather snuggle up with the boyf’s work coat in the boot.

Following the viewing and another attempt with the litter tray, we headed back on the return journey, where kitten meowed until I let her onto my lap. When we finally got back home, we realised that the litter tray was the wrong provision to bring – turns out kitten had the munchies.

All in all, house hunting day 1 was a long day with a hungry kitten and we still have no where to live after January! Time to send the boyf out on his own to hunt us down a little house to call home. Wish him luck!

So for week 1 of my 52 week project, here is my illustration of our possible little house.

little house

Click here for the start of my 52 week project!

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New years resolutions and a 52 week project

Today we welcomed 2014 with rain, wind and a thick blanket of grey cloud. Let’s hope it isn’t a sign of the year to come!

January 1st holds so many promises for the year to come and is the time for declaring your aims and goals for the next 365 days.

This year my resolution is to work on my illustrations, build up the blog and try to earn my first non-family commission.

On top of this, I’m going to embark on a 52 week project – each week I will post an illustration relating to my week. So by the end of the year, I will (hopefully) have 52 illustrations telling the story of my 2014 and I will get the chance to draw/sketch/paint a variety of different subjects.

Can I convince anyone to join me on my 52 week project?! Perhaps one of these suggestions could inspire you?

  • art related – new sketch or painting every week
  • photography related – a photo of something you love every week
  • a cooking or baking challenge – trying a new recipe every week
  • DIY/home decor related – little weekly home improvements such as finally fixing the wonky shelves/pruning that unruly rosebush
  • or even a more personal challenge – weekly date night with your partner/weekly family fun night/weekly run or bike ride

Keep it simple, achievable and use it as a chance to improve on something you love!

Keep me posted

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’twas the season to be jolly

After days, weeks and/or months of preparation, Christmas Day has now been and gone!

Presents have been given to all the good boys and girls, cookies and carrots left for Santa and his reindeer have been eaten and an excessive Christmas feast has been consumed.

For most of us, today is the day for unpacking travel bags and presents now that we’re back home or maybe sneaking to the sales in the hope of picking up a few things spotted whilst buying presents.

On a much sadder note, for some of my family and friends this has been a really difficult time following the loss of people close to them. I hope they can focus on all of the wonderful memories they shared and know that we are thinking of them.

So as not to leave this post on such a sombre note, here are a few snapshots of some of the cards I sent out this year. I think I sent around 15 in total, which is almost double the usual amount, so I had my first mass produced card, because the design was too cute for just one!

 christmas car card 2013

Hopefully you will recognise one of the designs below as the 2013 update of my girl wrapped up for winter. It’s still not quite there but it’s definitely an improvement! Hope you all had a lovely Christmas,

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christmas cards 2013

3 sleeps til Santa

There’s only 3 sleeps to go til Father Christmas comes to visit and I’m feeling pretty smug.

Two whole shopping days left until the day and only one present left to get. I even have a plan in place to get the final gift! All the rest are wrapped and labelled under the tree ready for the journey home on Christmas Eve.

This year I used some quick homemade tags for my presents, attached with some thread. The snowflakes were something I had drawn up already (of course, who doesn’t have a few snowflake outlines lying around!) so all I had to do was colour, cut and add a little bit of Christmassy text to tie them all together.

gift tags

I’m quite happy with them, although the pattern clashes with some of the wrapping paper! So, next year I’d like to try something similar, but go for some brightly coloured baubles and some metallic red thread. And glitter! Can’t believe I forgot the glitter!

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xmas gifts

Decisions, decisions!

One thing I can never decide on is whether to pen the outlines of my paintings.

To start with, I loved adding the pen; it would hide all the edges that had smudged across or bled into the neighbouring colours. I could add a strong bold edge and exaggerate the shadows. With the pen I could also add fine details and definition that I couldn’t seem to achieve with just the watercolours.

Now though, I’m less keen to add the pen. As I keep my colours quite pale (more out of habit than a conscious choice!), I quite like the smudged lines and subtle changes between the different parts of the painting. The look that little bit dreamier (more dreamy/more like a dream?) and softer, which I really like.

More often than not, I’m adding in a pencil line afterwards for any extra definition. Which hopefully stops me from trying to hide my watercolour mistakes with the outlines. Also, once the pen is there, it’s not going anywhere, it’s irreversible… this makes me nervous!

Here is one of the first times I added pen to my painting and over a year later, I still can’t decide which one I prefer!

What do you think – strong definition with pen or sketchy and light with a pencil? Let me know in the comments box below.

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walking pencil

(apologies for the dodgy shadows on the photo!)

walking pen