Friday, 30 April 2010

One Hundred Days no.89

So I didn't draw any ferrets, but I did draw a bottle of vinegar.

Happy weekend all. I am off to visit my family in Birmingham.

OK. I need to get a grip

I am going to stop moaning and get on with things. I have a silly idea for a children's picture book that I want to draw some sketches for. Even if it ends up as portfolio nonsense it's better than sitting around and doing nothing. And it involves drawing ferrets and food. A good combo, right? Maybe I'll do something related to it for this afternoon's One Hundred drawing. I've just sent off my first draft for the Dorling Kindersley book spread. I don't know if I've spent quite enough time on it - I am so lazy sometimes and just do things on autopilot, colouring in on Photoshop. Just for fun, here is a snippet from it:

Simple, colourful, silly.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

One Hundred Days no.88

I'm falling behind with this. Never mind. This one today is a 'default mode' drawing - another inexplicable human-animal interaction. Maybe it's a snapshot of some conversation that's going on inside my head...

I'll see if I have something more interesting to say for myself later today.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

J.Crew in the UK

I hear that big American brand, J.Crew, will be launching in the UK on Net-a-Porter some time soon. I really like the look of their Fall/Winter'10 collection, so I'm looking forward to seeing what will be available here. That green coat above makes me wish it were autumn already! I must be crazy.

Sorry I've not been doing drawings this week. Distracted.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sale at The French House

On the brighter side, The French House have added some good things to their sale section this week, including a rank of folding chapel seating for £250 down from £360, this green locker for £175 down from £300, and these rather spiffing benches for £125 each, down from £325. Yes, please!

listless... and a sneak peek

Hello all. I don't know what's been wrong with me these last few days. I am feeling listless and aimless. I know I should be pushing myself to do new work or to be creative in some way but I just can't be bothered. I think I'm feeling bored - bored of myself and my silly drawings, bored of being myself, really. Perhaps I'm finding it hard to be settled, or to focus on long-term plans when all I am thinking of is trying to move house and keeping my fingers crossed that I will sell my London flat soon. In short, I am disturbed.

I'm working on a sweet little job for Dorling Kindersley books this week involving one of my favourite subjects: mad scientists at an exposition. Here's a snippet from the rough I sent over the other day. It's obviously in its early stages...

Monday, 26 April 2010


Here are just a few shots from some of our walking in Wales. I can't wait until I can do this every weekend!

Hope you all had a good weekend. What did I do? I filled in lots of forms for house-selling, roasted a chicken and raided some charity shops (EIGHT new Le Parfait and Kilner jars for 50p each?! A no brainer, I think). On Sunday we rounded up all the awful unwanted gifts and junk that have been cluttering up our loft space and carted it off to sell at a car boot sale. The husband and I looked like proper market sellers in his flat cap, my wax jacket and home-sewn florals, and especially with his Yorkshire accent. We even made money from some godawful things that we thought would never sell. OK, the leopard-print dessert plates that were a wedding gift were uniformly ignored, but we managed to get rid of some other horrors despite their ugliness. What fun!

Friday, 23 April 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 87

Here's something I drew in London at the Hunterian Museum last week.

Have a good weekend, all - I hope the nice weather holds out!


Remember this post? I said I might like this house when we went to Wales and the problem is, we have fallen a little bit in love with it but are not in a position to buy yet. I am champing at the bit with impatience - we might have seized it off the market by now if only we had sold both our properties!

It wasn't the hugest house for the money, nor blessed with the enormous garden that I wanted to burden my inexperienced gardening skills with, but its location was breathtaking: an attention-seeking, double-fronted beauty perched amongst a small clump of houses on the slope of one of the Clwydian Hills. You couldn't wish for more if you wanted peace and fresh air - with a public footpath leading up the hill behind and Offa's Dyke Path just down the lane, it was enough to make me weep. And it wasn't too perfect - there was scope for converting the garage into a proper studio, opening up the kitchen and converting the loft.

We visited the house and its charming artist owners twice in five days. They are avid collectors of amazing vintage things, the volume of which slightly swamps the poor house - it is much bigger than it appears at first glance.

It also appeared, when I was nosing in the loft space with a torch, that they have a George Nelson Bubble lampshade kicking around in the dust up there. I nearly died.

The rest of the houses we saw paled into insignificance against it - too pokey, too messed-with, too dilapidated, too suburban... The only thing that I took from these house viewings was the realization that the Welsh are obsessed with badgers - one lady liked to feed them in her back yard and watch them at night, another moaned about the state of her lawn in their wake. They were funny. Oh, and there are prolific amounts of wild garlic on everyone's doorstep - foodie bliss! All we have here in Essex is bindweed and ground elder...

Ah well. I am trying not to choose a house with my heart before my head, if that makes sense. I am not in the business of house buying just to end up disappointed - it's no fun that way, so we continue to wait and watch.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I'm back!

And I'm a bit overwhelmed... with things to do, a new illustration job sitting patiently in my inbox, people to deal with. I'm a bit fluffy today.

We had a wonderful time - I'll tell you more about it tomorrow. The weather was beautiful, we walked over miles of hill and got lost in grand forests. I have fallen in love with Wales all over again.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

bye for now

I'm off to London tomorrow for a gander at the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy before it closes. Then I'll be attending a booze-fuelled screening of the latest Dog Judo, animated by my lovely friends at 12foot6. I can't wait to be in the city again for a day out.

On Friday we will be up at the crack of dawn to drive to Wales where we are staying for five nights, house hunting and enjoying the outdoors. Tragic news - the house with the pine kitchen and lovely outbuilding (pictured above) sold this week! I'm gutted. It was, for me, by far the best of the lot, with about an acre of lovely flat garden and only one neighbour. However, there are a few others lined up for us to nose around - a couple of enormous townhouses in need of renovation and some farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. I am so excited! This is the best part of moving house, the snooping around :-)

On the other hand I have some good news. After a couple of rounds of haggling, we have sold our house! All we can do now is cross our fingers and hope it all goes through smoothly. I am awaiting their 'cold feet' withdrawal already :-(...

Now I've just got to sell this damned flat in London and we are ready to go.

I'll be back next Thursday with news and pictures from our travels. Have a great week all. I hope you are doing something fun too. And thank you for stopping by! x

One Hundred Days - no. 86

SPECIES: Liberattus nondescriptis
DESCRIPTION: This particular animal has few distinguishing features other than an outwardly pleasant nature and eagerness to please (Fig. 1). Whilst being somewhat spineless in appearance, and lacking in muscular tone, this creature can sometimes display an alarmingly changeable nature (Fig. 2) so caution is advised when handling.

That's the last one until I return next week. Not the best thought-out, but you know...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Blodwen General Stores

I came across the Welsh shop Blodwen General Stores via this article in The Telegraph today. It sells traditional Welsh handcrafted and vintage goods, such as beautiful vintage quilts, clothing, furniture and household goods. I put together a selection of things from their site that I liked the look of.

One Hundred Days - no. 85

SPECIES: Toryboyus unpopularis
DESCRIPTION: A fine, upstanding creature, this bird is bred from excellent stock and carries great credentials yet it cannot understand why no-one likes it.
CHARACTERISTICS: A distinctive call that sounds like a piteous 'trust me! trust me!' repeated often and with increasing desperation.

Monday, 12 April 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 84

I've decided to skip weekend 'one hundred' drawings because they inevitably end up being drawn in a rush on Sunday afternoon. I will keep to weekdays from now on.

This one is for you and your boyfriend, Laura. (I tried others, porn included (!) but this one turned out the best - a beery unicorn after a night out with the lads) x

Selling up

Our house went on the market on Saturday and we had our first viewers on Sunday. It's a weird feeling, walking round your home with a pair of strangers, telling them about the little things, wondering if, maybe, they might one day be cooking in your kitchen, walking up those stairs and banging their heads on the low beams just like we do. Our visitors were far too tall for the house, even the young lady was at least three inches taller than me. Her partner pretty much had to stoop in the main room - he must have been about 6'3!

And my London flat is also up for sale. It's the place where I first found my feet as a non-student - a little studio flat just a minute from the yuppie pleasures of Fulham Broadway on one side, and wonderfully seedy North End Road on the other. I loved being a Londoner - with so much to do just on your doorstep, and feeling like you're at the centre of the Earth. I can see why people want to live there, cramped, noisy and expensive though it is. It makes you feel like you're interesting, like you're alive and living the high life. You can be who you want, dress how you like. No-one stares at you because you're Chinese or you decided to wear leg-warmers. And I have a lot of friends there - I will miss being able to see them on a whim.

Of course, that's the Londoner's attitude to things - they like to think that they are the only ones having a good time and that everyone else is living in the sticks eating at under-quality restaurants, going to uncool places for a night out. But the thing about me is that, more than those things, I want space to breathe and a bit of green to call my own, where I can grow my own food in clean earth and sit outside without a hundred near neighbours all piled on top of each other. I like the quiet life and don't hanker after trendy bars and great shopping (Lord! I need to be kept as far from shops as possible!). I'm happiest with a pair of walking boots on and the wind blowing hair into my eyes or pulling something that I have grown out of the soil. There is a wonderful life to be had outside of London and I'm glad I escaped, even if only to commuter-land in Essex. Next step: the back of beyond!

Image courtesy of Intercounty Estate Agents.

EDIT 11.13am: we got an offer! It was too low! We'll see...

Friday, 9 April 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 83

SPECIES: Lapinus labourius (flatulentis)
DESCRIPTION: Once a popular choice, this particular breed of rabbit has become somewhat inbred in recent years and now suffers from a whole host of disorders that have emerged in the most recent generation. Symptoms include severe flatulence, eye problems (blindness, tendency to look in the opposite direction from where it is going), respiratory difficulties and emotional instability. No longer suitable for most domestic environments, this animal is best kept in outdoor pens and handled with extreme caution.

Thanks for your suggestions - I will try to do all of them at some point! They are all great. Today, I thought I'd kick things off with the Labour Party. I have very few political leanings and am mostly a greeny neutral/ignorant sort of person. I am tempted to spoil my ballot paper instead of voting. So these pictures don't really say anything at all about what I think of the parties.

More chairs

I know, I know, I sound like stuck record sometimes, but I couldn't resist this one. Pigeon Vintage has just put up a new selection of 20th Century architect's chairs. This one is German and from the 1930s. I cannot imagine spending so much (£325!) on a seat, but I think it's magnificent. Go to their website for more.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Where do you think this is?

No, not France - Wales, would you believe? Purely out of nosiness we will be looking at this house next Friday. It belongs to an artist and his wife. There is a separate converted garage which is currently his studio and is full of paintings of jackets and things like that. They have crammed the place full of beautiful vintage things and it is probably a bit too 'finished' for us to buy it (this isn't the one with that pine kitchen I showed you the other day!), but since we're up there, we may as well take a look :-) The house is outside Bodfari and Offa's Dyke passes very close by. The countryside around there is stunning - I have a feeling I will like this place a lot.

One Hundred Days - no. 82

A penguin for Kat and Laura.

How about this for an idea: write requests for things for me to draw in the comments section of my posts e.g. an animal, or several animals/people, or some kind of interaction, like 'a mongoose eating a pineapple', 'two canaries fighting over a sausage'. Go on. It'll be fun! I think I need to be brought out my dog/rodent comfort zone for the final push!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 81

Back in the comfort zone...

I can't wait...

until next Friday when the husband and I are running off to Wales for a few days. We will be scouting around for places to buy a house, having a peek at a couple of properties we've been eyeing up, and the rest of the time we will be doing a lot of walking.

So today I was wondering what to write about and came up with a blank. But as I like to say: when in doubt (and with time on your hands), turn to Polyvore! What clothes would I like to wear on a short break in springtime Wales? (OK, the shorts are a bit optimistic...)

spring weekend
This is the set that I randomly put together just now. Comparing this one to the others I've done, there is definitely a theme going on here - very simple, lots of neutrals, shorts worn with long sleeves, a snip of blue and a pop of colour in the accessories... but it's not even as if I dress like this - I hate my legs so shorts are a bit of an issue! I need to get over that...

Items in this set: Grey cardigan, Jack Wills, $170; Embly Racer Back Tee, 39 GBP; Vanessa Bruno Athe Wool cargo shorts, $105; Carraville Walking Socks, 24 GBP; Moccasin Boots, $240; Toast Elsie Satchel, 325 GBP; Bordfield Belt, 79 GBP. Other items - Barbour Beaufort wax jacket, Stanley food flask, necklace from Eclectic Eccentricity, squirrel necklace, blue scarf and Toast blanket - click here for the full list of items.

Of all of those things I only own the Barbour jacket and Stanley flask. Well, I suppose I could put together a vest, shorts and cardigan combo too, plus long socks and lace-up boots. I'm almost there! Bring on next Friday!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

industrial lighting

I have a fondness for vintage industrial style homewares - simple things with a bit of knuckle. I don't decorate in a particularly feminine way, and some might say my taste is quite masculine or at least utilitarian. I don't do florals, girly colours or that annoyingly contrived brand of shabby chic that appears in so many magazines. It makes me shudder.

I would (ceiling height permitting) like to fit some industrial/café style lamps to hang over my kitchen table or to light a loft space or studio. There are many shops out there who sell light fittings like this, but I like the ones that appear in period hardware shops such as Period Features, Holloways of Ludlow and Willow and Stone. Some of them lean a bit too far in the shabby chic direction - you have to be careful what else you put in the room or it can look a bit twee - but I think they can be used very effectively to give a clean, smart look.

(Clockwise from top left) I'm not too sure about green - I prefer white/grey/raw metal - but these green lamps from Holloways of Ludlow, £89, or (if you're crazy) Pedlars for £175, are suitably masculine.

If you want the real vintage deal, check out these (and other amazing options) from Trainspotters £75 +vat. Or if you are particularly wealthy :-) how about these for £240 +vat?

This cafe style lamp, made in Wales, appears in lots of shops. It is cheapest from Welsh metalware shop, Gwyneira, for £41.10, but is also available for £48.00 at Pedlars again if you're into overpriced goods :-)

There is a particularly good selection of styles at Holloways of Ludlow, including this spun aluminium pendant, £115.00. It also comes in other colours and there are lots of styles to choose from.

You could even fit some vintage style light switches from Period Features if you are feeling particularly retro. Similar available at Holloways.

Gwyneira also stocks this raw aluminium lamp, £46.03, which is available in cream or red too. You can find the same lamp (for a bit more money) at Willow and Stone, but I like the shade of grey on the Battersea light, £50.

I don't mean to write negative things about Pedlars, their products are lovely but I just think their stuff is a bit expensive. Absolutely fine if you are a city-dwelling sort who likes to shop in Notting Hill or Selfridges, where they have shops, and you can't be bothered to hunt around for things or to rummage at antiques fairs, but I like to source my own junk :-)

One Hundred Days - no. 80

Can you tell that there are some animals I don't draw very often? It's time to expand the repertoire, I think.

Hope you all had a good Easter weekend. We spent it with our families. As usual, I ate too much pork.

Friday, 2 April 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 79

Happy Easter! I will be away until Tuesday visiting my parents and going to a Ukrainian Easter Mass with the husband's family! Anyone doing something more interesting than sitting in a cold church being stared at by nonagenarian Eastern Europeans? :-P

Have a restful holiday!


Here is the kitchen in yesterday's house. I think you'll agree that it needs work i.e. gutting and starting all over again. I mean, that pine ceiling and strip lighting make my eyes hurt.

So I had a little scout around for some inspiration, just in case I get hold of a house that needs a new kitchen. I don't really know what I want, but from these images it appears that I like painted cabinets in white or greyish neutrals, a little bit of pattern and touches of wood. But knowing me and our potential budget, I would end up living with that awful pine-y kitchen forever! One can dream, though :-)

I am a bit scared of pattern but I'm strangely drawn to this Portuguese tiling. It reminds me of the riotous beauty of Parc Guell in Barcelona and brings a touch of character and whimsy to the space. You could try similar ideas with some of Fired Earth's lovely patterned tiles, or use an eclectic selection of beautiful antique tiles.

Images from:, Vila do Artesao, Tumblr (sorry, the actual owner of the image wasn't credited where I found it), Flickr and Wet Behind the Ears. All via We Heart It.

Anyway, I am getting a bit ahead of myself! I think I need to stop fantasizing.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The National Trust Summerhouses

I was talking about railway carriage outbuildings the other day, but what to do if a train wreck doesn't just happen to be sitting at the end of your garden? The photo above is of an outbuilding on one of the properties we have been ogling recently. It has two rooms and a loft space and sounds absolutely perfect. I would trim back some of those hedges to bring more light in, put some potted plants outside, a table and chair for the summer, and paint the door Oval Room Blue or something greenish by Farrow and Ball. Then one room could be my main studio, and the other my 'wet' room where I can make a mess. See? I've already moved in :-). The property also has a wooden summerhouse, which I would probably turn into a retreat away from work.

I just stumbled across these National Trust Summerhouses, built by Scotts of Thrapston. Each one was inspired by a National trust property - George Bernard Shaw's summerhouse, and Virginia Woolf's converted tool shed. They are perhaps a little too neat for me, too 'finished', but I love the idea of having a place tucked away in the corner of my garden where I don't have the distractions of the internet, telephone and housework.

One Hundred Days - no. 78

Today I haven't even the will to pick up a paintbrush... Does anyone else go up and down in energy and zeal like I do? If you look through my blog, there are weeks where I will post twice a day and have lots (too much?) to say for myself, and other weeks where I'm listless and lazy. This is one of the latter. I think I am suffering from having to talk to too many estate agents...