Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?  Not quite!  I managed to knock over two more Myer Fashions on the Field illustrations this week with just one more left to do.. phew!

First off, this week is the 2011 winner, Angela Menz.  Angela is a milliner and designer who created this winning outfit and headpiece for $400!!  And no my sweet but ignorant husband, she is not wearing a giant vagina on her head … it’s “fashun” darling… FASHUN!  Angela is also responsible for On Track Trend which you can also follow on Instagram if you like keeping up with all things racing fashion.

If you read last week’s post you will know I chickened out of doing a complete colour pencil portrait and ended up with a bit of half and half (graphite and colour mix).  This time I went for it and did my first ever colour pencil portrait.  I am actually pretty happy with how it turned out!


version 2

Second up is 2010 winner Jaydee Menegon who won wearing an $18 dress …bargain!


Photo Credit 1/2

Emily Hunter – Fashion on the Field Winner 2015

final version 4.jpgwrok in progress

I finally feel like I am getting close to the finish line with these Myer Fashions on the Field National winners. Six down, five to go!

This time it is the 2015 winner, Emily Hunter.  Hands down the best fascinator, millinery, head-piece, whatever you call it on ground ever!.  Okay maybe that is a big call but it is a very pretty head piece.

I went for a slightly different style with this drawing, pulling back on the detail in her face to focus my attention on the headwear.  I had initially thought to complete the whole drawing in colour pencil but I chickened out!  I don’t yet feel confident enough with my colour pencil skills to do a complete portrait.  Anyway I quite like the finished mix of the graphite and colour pencil!




Photo Credit: 1/2


Colouring in with Nanna (or 10 Colour Pencil Tips)

Last weekend I did my first art class in years; a two-day colour pencil botanical illustration workshop. Why botanics?  Well botanical illustration is not really my thing.  I love nature and I love creating fine details in my artwork but, to be honest, I am just not that in to drawing flowers.

BUT I love to add colour to my graphite illustrations and I have battled with gouache, watercolour, ink, digital colouring and colour pencil.  Of all these mediums colour pencil seems to make the most sense to me and feel fairly instinctive to use.  However, I have discovered, it’s not that simple.  Colour pencils are quite different to graphite and have their own idiosyncracies.  What I really wanted out of this workshop was some colour pencil know how.

I have previously done a couple of colour pencil drawings and in the process come up with a few problems or questions;

  • How much colour or how many layers do I add / when have I laid down enough colour?
  • Is it “acceptable” to leave white paper showing?
  • What is burnishing?
  • What is blending?
  • Aren’t they the same thing?
  • What’s the deal with using solvents?  Are they necessary?

With these questions at the forefront of my mind I entered my first coloured pencil / botanical class ever.  The first thing I noticed was that I seemed to be a good twenty years  younger than my class mates.  Botanicals are popular with the Nannas it would seem!  Despite my desk mates penchant for dad jokes (or nan jokes) and clipping their nails during class (I kid you not!) they were a delightful bunch of incredibly skilled women.

Equally as impressive as their drawing and academic skills was ….the amount of tea they could drink in a day.  Nah…  actually the array of shit they had amassed in their crafting careers.  We had enough pencils, paper, erasers, magnifying glasses, sharpeners, paints, brushes to set up our own black market art supply business.  There was even a light box produced at one point!  My husband needs to meet these ladies. My stash is NOTHING compared to these magpies…. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

natures art lab collage

Let’s cut to the chase.  What did I learn.

  1. A. a sharp pencil is an absolute must and you can use sandpaper to maintain a point (this is, however, a skill in itself and one that I did not manage to master. Alas all my pencils are now about an inch long from constant sharpening).  Without a sharp point you can not get in to all the little undulations the tooth of the paper creates.  On that same note we were encouraged to use an upright pencil (i.e. as perpendicular to the paper as possible) and gently lay down colour using small circular strokes.  Again this is the best method to get colour in to all the nooks and crannies of the paper’s surface.  A circular motion also helps avoid any obvious overlapping of pencil strokes.
    1. B. I hate the sound of electric pencil sharpeners about as much as someone publicly clipping their nails and if I hear it one more time I will not hesitate to ram it up the behind of the offending Nanna.
  2. Smooth paper is also must, pretty much for the same reason as above. Less tooth = smoother finished product.  At this particular workshop I was using Winsor and Newton Smooth Surface Cartridge Pad but I will go back to Arches Watercolour Smooth paper as I think it has a smoother finish.
  3. Blending – this is what it’s all about!  We discussed three methods of blending.  One being simply using pencils and layering them blending one colour in to another.  The trick is to work light to dark with a sharp point and the lightest of light pressure.  At this point I was able to answer my question about white paper showing through and it’s not wrong.  If it suits the look of the project/ subject matter then it’s okay.  We also used a colourless pencil blender with a medium pressure and a solvent (turpentine) to blend colours.  Solvents work basically to break down or melt the binders in wax and oil based pencils thus reducing the look of pencil strokes and smoothing the surface.
  4. Burnishing – Why would you? Burnishing (i.e. blending to a shiny almost reflective surface using a burnishing pencil) was pretty quickly dismissed as a technique for botanics but I can see some applications in other areas.  It might be a good tool to create a pair of shiny leather shoes perhaps?
  5. She who has the most and/or the most expensive coloured pencils does not necessarily win.  If you lack the skills a $5 pencil is going to look shit regardless.  Skills first – expensive tools later (I can’t believe I just said that! – this is coming from the queen of when-it’s-not-working-buy-more-stuff and, who the day before the class, spent $$$ buying half a dozen Faber-Castell Polychromos colour pencils so that I would have THE BEST pencils for my class.  I discover the next day my teacher had all kinds of random pencils.  I suspect she even had some “student grade” (horror of horrors) amongst her stash.)
  6. The best way to colour match is to hold the tip of the pencil against the object you are drawing / colour you are hoping to achieve.  This is clearly a no brainer but it had never occurred to me.  I spend ages making little square test patches of colour and then forgetting which combination of colours in which order I had just used.  You’re all probably reading this going ‘duh’ how did she not know to do that.
  7. Create shadows using a complementary colour.  I’ve been doing this for a while anyway so not really a revelation. The idea being that a complementary colour makes a more effective  and aesthetically pleasing shadow than just using black.  It was also suggested to use a deep analogue colour to create an effective tonal change  from the highlight to the shadow colour.  (Analogue colours being colours next to each other on the colour wheel for the uninitiated – I had to look it up too)
  8. Keep your kneadable eraser wrapped in the plastic wrap it comes in only exposing a little bit at a time as you knead need it.  Another REVELATION for me.  This stops you easer turning in to a dirty-doggy-human-hair infested glob.
  9. Get your shit organised!  Put the pencils you are not using at this current point in time out-of-the-way or you’re going to get all muddle up between what’s in and what’s not.
  10. Blog posts should have 10 tips… um be nice to old people and drawing plants is kinda boring.

When I got home I was dead keen to put my new found colour pencil skills in to action on something non-plant based.

Hallelujah …what could be more unnatural than…  New York F-A-S-H-I-O-N – W-E-E-K

To be honest I was a little underwhelmed by New York this time round.  So here are a few of my best bits (and how adorable is that chicky in the middle. I have no idea who she is but she has the most engaging smile!)).New York fashion week collage.jpg

I am going to do a really bad blog thing now.  I am not much of a blog planner and have no content prepared beyond today but I reckon I can string this blog post out over two weeks!

All the work in progress and final images will appear next week.  But I don’t want to leave you hanging so here is a sneak peek of my colour pencil New York fashion week illustration.

work in progresswork in progress 9

And an extra bonus!  I know that ever since you read that bit about Dad jokes you’ve all been DIEING to hear one, so I thought I share one of the weekend’s best.

Nanna 1 “Oh rats” (aka oh shit, balls, crap, I have fucked something up – well that’s what I would have said)

Nanna 2 (Funny Nanna) “You’re in the wrong class”

Nanna 1 “What?”

Nanna 2 “We’re drawing flora not fauna!” (followed by a long and somewhat unnecessary explanation of how we were participating in a botanical illustration class therefore rats and their ilk had no place in our class and perhaps Nanna 1 should be looking for a fauna illustration class for her rats.

Please feel free to use that joke


Photo Credit: (clockwise from top left): 1.Tom Ford, 2. Jeremy Scott, 3. Bottega Veneta, 4. Victoria Beckham, 5. Mansur Gavrila, 6. Sies Marjan, 7. Prabal Gurung, 8. Tibi, 9.Collina Strada

Am I a “Real Artist” yet?

2018 is the year I become a real, proper, artist (whatever that means).

I think I have always attached the notion of being a real artist to being able to sell my art.  Thus far, in my art lifetime, I have sold one birthday card for a grand total of $3.50.

I’m not a real artist then…

Ah but now I have an actual “commission”.  A money-exchanging-hands-commission.  This one is for my good yogi friend Kirsten (aka the Pink Princess).  Kirsten’s beautiful daughter, SJ, has just graduated as a defence cadet and is about to celebrate her twenty-first birthday.  Kirsten asked me to draw a portrait of SJ with her grandfather as a surprise birthday gift.

Kirsten provided me a photograph of SJ and her grandfather with instructions to “pimp” pop (Kirsten’s words not mine).  Not RuPaul Drag Race pimping just removing anything that said hospital.  Kirsten wanted the lipstick kiss on pop’s forehead to stay (which thrilled me no end as I like a bit of colour in my graphite drawings).


Work in progress photos.



FINAL cropped

So now that money has exchanged hands, do I actually consider myself as a REAL artist?

I make art; therefore I am an artist.  I am a living breathing human; therefore I am real.  That must make me a real-artist.

Or much more eloquently from artist and designer, Victoria Rose Martin

“Am I a real artist? Real or not I am an artist and I make things because of a deep desire to do so. Nothing more. And people’s opinions, I was once told “opinions are like backsides, everybody has one.”  I don’t make things with the thought of pleasing the masses or selling them; instead I make art because my fingers and brain give me no option to do anything else.” – What Makes a Real Artist




When good things go bad or visa versa

Why is it that sometimes the things you think are going to turn out brilliant turn out shit and the things that you think are going to be shit turn out f’ing awesome (or at least better than shit)?  I’ve had so many drawings lately that I thought were going to turn out brilliant.  You know when you come up with an idea and you think I am a god damn genius (Gump), no one has EVER thought of this before, this illustration is going to be THE MOST awesome thing anyone has seen (well I’m never THAT confident but you get my drift).  And then you put pencil to paper and for some reason it just doesn’t work!

The flip side to all of this is those images that start out as a bit of a pile of shit and end up epic!.  Okay EPIC may be an exaggeration but a hell of a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

I have this job, collaboration, ‘thing’ going on which involves drawing a lot of Spring Racing fashion.  I like drawing fashion but I have to admit I am a bit out of practice, having focused largely on portraits of late.  I did the first drawing late last year of Crystal Kimber, winner on the 2017 Myer Fashions on the Field National Competition.  The National Competition brings together all the state finalists at Flemington race course on Kennedy Oaks Day and is Australia’s largest and most prestigious outdoor fashion event.

I have since attempted to illustrate three other winners and each one has been varying degrees of… blahg.


After three consecutive so-so drawings I was neither inspired nor looking forward to tackling another.  I don’t know why (call me a glutton for punishment) but I chose to do the one I was dreading the most! It was an outfit from 2007 so like back when tweed and satin were fashionable fabrics (ugh), wide, waist-cinching belts were trendy and greys and browns were the colour of choice, apparently.  I am in no way criticising the sartorial choices of the winner (Lorraine Cookson).  She was bang on trend in 2007 but after all the colour of the last couple of years this felt a bit drab.

Aside from the somewhat uninspiring outfit, the really challenging part wa sourcing useful reference photos.  For these racing illustrations I am trying to accurately draw the clothing and the model.  To do so I pull a bunch of photos from the internet and then just use bits and pieces to create my own image.

So back to 1977  sorry 2007 and the lovely Lorraine.  I guess because its like all of TEN YEARS ago all the reference images I managed to source were dodgy, a bit grainy, low quality and at the weirdest angles.


I didn’t feel confident creating my own image as there wasn’t enough detail in any of the photos.  In all honestly I didn’t have a clear picture in my head of what the outfit actually looked like.  I could tell it was a wrap skirt and a grey tweed jacket with a wide belt.  The hat was a fedora with some kind of flower and as far as the shoes, apart from being f’ing high (kudos to this woman for being able to walk on grass in those mothers) open toe, close toe, sling back I have no idea!

I ended up choosing this photo by Gaye Gerrad (Getty images) to be my sole reference photo.


So with much trepidation and absolutely no confident I sat down one rainy Sunday afternoon to start.  Since everything was kinda vague, vague details, vague edges, vague idea of what I was doing I thought; I know I will just start by blocking in rough, vague, shapes and vainly hope that the fog will lift and I will get some clarity about what I am looking at.  By the end of the day I had this.


and I was pretty well… chuffed!

It was by no means what I set out to do.  Normally I aim for very sharp, crisp, edges, clean lines and lots of detail, using a range of pencils from 4H through to 6B.  This was completed solely with an HB.  Generally I use a crosshatch stroke and/or a small circular motion.  For this particular drawing, I tried to maintain a 45 degree angle (although clearly my focus is not terribly good and you can see in the hat I was going 45 degrees the other way doh!)

In my second sitting I wanted to bring out the darker areas and smooth out the graduations of tone.  I really have no idea what I am doing here.  Part of me wanted to do the second layer at right angles (i.e. cross hatch) to get rid of the definite lines.  I was also tempted to focus on finishing an area completely before I moved on to the next as this is the way I normally work.  Remember the episode of Seinfield where George decides to do everything the opposite of what he normally does in the belief that it will bring him success since every decision he has ever made has been wrong.

 “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”.

That’s kinda how I felt.  Resist the temptation to do what I would normally do and it will work out!

This second layer was completed primarily with a 2B focused on darkening the shadow areas and a HB to even out the transitions. I stayed away from the skirt for the time being as I wanted to keep this light.  Since I was focused on working in layers it was really important keep the pencil application light.  I wanted to avoid getting to a point where the paper couldn’t take any more graphite before I had achieved the level of darkness that I wanted.

For my third sitting I focused on the lighter areas, being the skirt and the skin, using a 4H pencil.  Also at this time I added in the darkest of the darks where necessary with a 4B (the shadow her skirt casts on her legs, the back leg and the right side of her jacket.). I continued to work on smoothing out the gradiations.


I ended up with something really different to what I would normally do and I quite like it.  Truth be told it is one of those pictures that looks better in the flesh from a distance!  I know that sounds like a euphemism for saying its really shit.  Stand on one leg, close your left eye and then look at it and trust me then you’ll see how good it looks!😉


Photo reference 1/2

Crikey, I’ve lost my mojo!

"Emmi" - Colour and graphite pencil drawing (detail)

I often use this blog to give a bit of the back story to each of my drawings; where my inspiration comes from and how the illustrations came to be.  I’d love to have a great back story to this piece but .. well… there actually isn’t one   I started this drawing late last year when I had four or five unfinished drawing “failures” hanging about.  Failures is probably too harsher word but illustrations that just hadn’t come together and consequently I’d lost any desire to finish them.  I felt like I had completely lost my mojo.

After taking a bit of a break I decided that the best way to rebuild my confidence was by drawing something that I am comfortable with and that I know I do quite well.  Take the easy road!  A graphite pencil portrait of a pretty girl!

I normally do my works on A3 (297 x 420mm) Arches paper but for this one I needed more space so I busted out the rarely used A2 (420 x 594mm) paper.  I find A2 a bit too large and awkward to manage.  And when you have an A3 scanner it can be a complete bitch to scan A2 and match up the two halves seamlessly.

I started with the graphite pencil face and then the hands using my usual Tombow mono pencils.  Initially I wasn’t planning on doing anything other than the face and hands but since it was going along quite well and my confidence was up I decided to add some colour.  I have no idea why I chose to draw them in colour pencil I think it was just an intuitive thing at the time.   It didn’t even cross my mind that my last effort with colour pencil had been a little painful.


(Now I am going to crap on about colour pencil for a while, so you can just skip to the end to see the final image if this is all a bit boring.)

I started with an underdrawing using complementary colours; green pencil for the red flowers, red pencil for the green leaves and purple pencil for the yellow flowers and buds.  With my last colour pencil drawing I had difficulty getting sharp, crisp, edges.  Once again the colour pencil queen, Carrie L Lewis, has come to my rescue with her conveniently titled “How to Draw Crisp Edges with Colored Pencils”.  Read her blog for a more comprehensive explanation but in short; mark the outline before you start shading and ‘draw a light outline with every colour you use on that area’.  Why didn’t I think of that!

I used my Prismacolor Premier pencils to outline the red flowers in Kelp Green and then shaded in the darker/shadow areas in the same green.  I outlined again in Crimson Red being careful to travel as exactly as possible along the initial green line.  I repeated the Crimson Red outline with each layer of colour I applied.  You’d think this would be a pretty straight forward and simple process but truthfully I got better at it the more I did and my last flowers look a hell of a lot better than the first couple.  It takes a bit of a steady hand to trace accurately over the line below each time.  The more accurately you can do it the more crisp the edge will be.  Again I added more shadow in Crimson Red and Scarlet Lake for the centre.

To be honest, I really only used three colours on the flowers.  I’m seriously starting to believe that the LESS colours you use the better.  Creating ‘red’ with only three colours (one of which is not even red!) is more effective that using six different colours.  Maybe that’s just me!  Maybe a more experienced artist uses a lot of different colours I don’t know! (Maybe the colour pencil companies are a scamming us with their box sets of 72 different colour pencils and in reality you only need 2 reds, 2 blues, 2 greens, 2 yellows, 2 browns and black and white?… conspiracy?)


Flower-no2-v4.jpg(The top photo is one of the first flowers I did and the bottom photo the last one.  I think I got better!)

For the leaves and the yellow petals I followed the same process of tracing over the outline carefully with each colour I used.  It really did help me get a crisper, sharper, outline.  As with the red petals I continued to use a fairly limited palette starting with a complementary colour.


In my last colour pencil piece I liked the stage where some white paper was still showing through.   I prefer this over pushing it to the limit with as many layers as possible and removing all signs of the white paper.   This piece does lends itself well to that ‘style’ as I imagine it is a white blouse with the flowers and leaves embroidered on top so naturally there may be some white fabric peaking through.


Initially I had planned to add hair.  I struggle with hair a lot so I decided to leave it until the very end.  Now I kind of like her ‘hairless’.  I don’t know. What do you think?  Am I just being lazy!?



George’s American Virgin

Graphite and digital art illustration

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll be aware that this year I am embarking on creating my own… how shall we call them…dream? imaginary? projects and clients.  Last week I finished my step by step smokey eye beauty illustration featuring the lovely Matilda from Maya Organic Beauty Therapy.  This week it’s… beer labels!.  Yes, beer labels.  A bit of jump I know from makeup to beer but I am nothing if not adaptable.

There is a bit of beery back story to this one.  My husband has been an avid home brewer since before we were married.  As he likes to remind me I knowingly and willingly married in to this lifestyle.  And I don’t even like beer… at all (which I remind him that he knowing and willingly married in to).

He recently introduced his friend, George, into this weird world of yeast, hops, conditioning, carbonation, gravity. mouth feel and fermentation (I have no idea what these terms mean, I have merely heard them enough to absorbed them in to my vocabulary).

In honour of George’s first brew they asked for a specially designed beer label.

The guys came up with the name “Maiden Voyage”.  Because it was George’s first brew: “Maiden” and because the ‘Brewery’ is a 1921 train carriage that sits in our backyard (long story – not relevant to this long story).


The brief was annoyingly suprisingly specific: a hot chick wearing a train drivers cap with an American flag (in reference to this beer being an American Pale Ale).  And she had to have big boobs… naturally.

Miss Deadly Red is an English model who I first came across on Instagram @missdeadlyred.  As soon as I heard busty beer wench – she came to mind (I hope she’s not insulted by that).  The original image is based around a photograph from Miss Deadly Red’s Instagram account.  Mind you, agreement to the final image was struck only after SEVERAL drafts and there’s not much resemblance to Miss Deadly Red in the finished product.


I ended up not going as “busty” as the boys would like.  But I did get a lot of the other elements they wanted in; the American flag in the background, the train-drivers cap; and she’s even sporting a vintage American Express Railway Company badge with her name “Georgie” and “01” (in reference to this being the first batch of Maiden Voyage).






As this will ultimately be a beer label and really no bigger than 10cm x 10cm, the colours need to be quite strong and crisp.  I’ve gained a bit more confidence working with Photoshop after my last project so decided to try my hand a digital colouring again.  And here she is…FINAL-V2

I was under severe time pressure to get this finished before all the beer was drunk! and I only just made it!  If I had a bit more time there’s a couple of things I would fix.  My main problem is I feel like the top half of the picture dominates because the background and the cap are such strong colours.  I did end up deepening the colours on the denim overalls and the badge but I still think the bottom half is a little ‘soft’ in comparison to the top and gets a bit lost.

Also the skin colour is a bit off.  I am pretty woeful at matching or picking colours.  If I pick what I think is a good skin colour it is likely to end up being a weird green-grey shade.  I did discover that you can look up hex codes online for all sorts of things: skin. eye colour, denim!. I used  It is a really helpful a shortcut.


Overall the brewers were pretty happy with “Georgie” and I now have a list of about ten upcoming brews in need of labels!

Cheers 🍺🍺🍻🍻

Photo credit 1/

Beauty illustration – Perfecting the smokey eye

Graphite Pencil and digital art illustration of Matilda

Last week I completed my graphite illustration of Matilda.  You can read about it here.  This week it’s time to put my Photoshop skills to the test and see if I can perfect that old classic – the smokey eye.


It’s pretty rare for me personally to go to the trouble of putting ANY makeup on these days, let alone taking half an hour to master a smokey eye look.  Now days it’s no makeup or my Homer Simpson makeup gun is set to whore.  Seriously I am that clueless about makeup!


Fortunately, Emmi and the girls at Maya Organic Beauty Therapy know what they are doing and wrote me a step by step guide smokey eye tutorial.  With my guide in hand it was time to tackle Photoshop.

Into the Wormhole

Now I am only slightly more adept at Photoshop than I am at makeup application.  I have had Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom tablet and pen for about seven years but everything I’ve learnt has been through trial and error.  My skills are pretty basic but, to be honest, I have no desire to become a digital artist anyway.

I do occasionally watch a YouTube Photoshop tutorial but I either get bamboozled by the tech speak or, having the attention span of a gnat, tune out after about five minutes.  I have recently discovered Draw with Jazza who keeps it simple and to around 20 minutes per tutorial (I am yet to get past the 10 minute mark but that’s my issue not his! – New Years Resolution = learn to focus).

Photoshop is a wormhole.   I step in at 9am and then few moments later I am disturbed by a dull headache from being hunched over staring at a computer screen (without my glasses on), only to discover that it’s now 4pm!.  I sit back and look at what I’ve achieved and then….


….and here we are back where I started at 9am but for the addition of some blue eyes.


The ability to remove all trace of what you’ve done is kind of what’s good and bad about Photoshop.  It is brilliant that if you mess something up, it’s not quite right or for whatever reason you don’t like it… voila…  you can just hit delete and in seconds remove all trace that it was ever there.  You can’t really do that with traditional art works.  Yeah you can erase it or paint over it but you can only do this so many times.  At some point you have to call time, there has to be an end, a finish point.  The paper won’t take any more erasing or any more layering of pencil.  Any more paint and things will just turn muddy brown.  There is a point where it is as good as its going to get and you have to stop.   With Photoshop…


And so panned out my first three days of trying to ‘makeup ‘ Matilda.  I’d work all day long only to get to 4pm to discover that I didn’t like it any more and in a moment of frustration delete everything.

Finally I gave myself an ultimatum.  This was it.  Last day.  Wherever I get to today that is it.  Let go of my perfectionist tendencies and call it finished.

web-final.jpgStep by Step

When I was a child I always wanted to be a graphic artist (and a vet, and a pilot, and an architect, and… you get the picture) but my parents “encouraged” me to study sciences, go university and get a “real” job.  I ended up as a police officer?!?.  I am not quite sure that was what my parents had planned!

Anyway I digress… I wanted to be a graphic artist.  I love designing layouts.  I can’t explain it but something fascinates me about layouts. I am a layout nerd.  Hence I came up with several different, increasingly complex versions for my final step by step tutorial.  And when I say complex I mean complex, there were arrows, connecting lines, different fonts, close-ups, colours, shapes …

In the end the most simple version seemed to be the most effective.





Graphite Pencil and digital art illustration of MatildaI also have to say in retrospect, while it was not my intention, this has ended up a very similar layout to Kimberley McCone’s beauty illustration I mentioned in last week’s blog post.  I guess it must have stuck in my head.  So I herby gratefully and respectfully acknowledge the inspiration Kimberley’s works has given me and the amazing-ness of her talent!

This project was really just for my practice anyway and I have no intention of using it in any commercial sense.  (But hey if any makeup artists out there do want a collaboration, you know where to find me!)

Photo Credits 1/

New Year: New Goals -Time to get some perspective!

Last year I achieved some pretty serious personal goals and a couple of artistic ones.  I started my blog, embarked on a couple of collaborations ,which will hopefully come to fruition later this year, and generally committed a lot more time to my art.

This year (apart from cracking the elusive 1000 followers on Instagram).  I want to do more collaborations and commissions.  I suppose it is a bit about moving my art from “hobby” status in to something more like a “job”.

Secretly I have always had this unfulfilled desire to be a commercial artist.  To have people contact me with fabulous projects that just cater perfectly to my style of illustrating.  Calls from Gucci or Alexander McQueen to head to Europe and illustrate their latest runway collection from my front row seat next to one of those Kardashian people.  Or perhaps Vogue magazine want me to illustrate the top five breakout models of the 21st Century.  Hey, Beyoncé wants a family portrait?  Sure just let me check my calendar (or should that be get your people to contact me people Bey).

I know, I live in a fantasy world.  I suspect the reality of commercial illustration is a hell of a lot different to a fully paid trip to Milan, where I bash out a couple of illustrations, have cocktails with Karl and Anna and then head home, first class of course.  No doubt it’s a hard slog, some crappy, boring, ordinary jobs and not a lot of money!

I have, in the past, been requested to do a couple of small projects and I find the reality of having to draw something that somebody else wants you to draw a little frustrating!  I wanna draw what I wanna draw not what you want me to draw! (No, I don’t want to draw your baby!… unless of course it’s dressed in Dolce and Gabbana … then maybe I’ll think about it.  Oh Blue Ivy, Rumi and Sir can wear whatever they want Bey)  Truth be told I would probably be a pretty sucky commercial artist but I can still dream from time to time!

So I figured if Gucci ain’t coming to me I’m going to Gucci.  Well kind of…  I’m making my own “dream” projects.

“Yeah I’ll be king when dogs get wings
Can I help it if I still dream time to time”

– It’s Good to Be King – Tom Petty

The Beauty Pitch

I have been a bit keen to try my hand at some makeup illustrations.   You know a bit like MAC makeup have but something slightly more sophisticated or “arty” than just a one-dimensional template.

I think lots of creatives get inspired by other creatives but it is important to give credit where credit is due!.  For this project I am totally inspired by the work of New Zealand artist, Kimberley McCone, (top left and Sandra Suy (bottom left   (I think the images on the right are also Sandra Suy’s but they are not referenced on Pinterest).

So I pitched my concept to my lovely beautician, Emmi, who owns and runs Maya Organic Beauty Therapy.  She was totally onboard, although I sensed a bit of trepidation at the thought of posing makeup free.  Fortunately one of her staff, Matilda, happily volunteered (or had her arm twisted… I’m not entirely sure what went down!).  When I received Matilda’s makeup free selfie I was absolutely gobsmacked at what a natural beauty this girl is!  And I feel a bit sheepish adding makeup to her already gorgeous face!

Catching the light

I have to confess that this is my second attempt at drawing Matilda.  The first one I messed up and managed to make Matilda look a bit… strange!  It seems so obvious now where I went wrong but at the time I couldn’t figure out what the problem was and persevered with it far longer than I should have.  Clearly her left eye is like a centimeter higher than her right and a bit smaller, giving her a very “wonky” eyed look!


Once I’d accepted that I would have start all over again I was determined to fix those eyes up.  I felt like it was more than just the height difference that had messed me up.

Matilda had taken a selfie with her mobile phone for me to use as a reference photograph and I had a feeling that maybe this was the source of my problems.  I did a bit of research to try to figure out what was going wrong and hopefully rectify things.

First off ‘the closer a camera is to your face, the larger your nose looks, the smaller your ears look and the more slope is applied to your forehead’  Secondly, if the camera is close to your face (i.e. arms length) and you look directly down the lens you may end up looking cross-eyed!

Finally, catch lights are the reflection of the light source on the surface of the eyes.  Catch lights can be different shapes, sizes and brightness depending on the light source itself.  There can be one in each eye or multiples, but they should be the same in each eye.  The most natural look is a round catch light.

The conventional position of catch lights is at 10 or 2 o’clock.  Allegedly the earliest portrait painters found that the most pleasing balance resulted when either of those positions was used.  Catch lights below 9 or 3 o’clock can look unnatural.  No catch lights at all will make the portrait a bit dead eyed.

Since the eyes had caused me so much trouble the first time round I went for the most conventional and allegedly aesthetically pleasing look; one round catch light in each eye at 2 o’clock.



Second times a charm … almost

Second time around went a bit better but I ended up doing a lot more shading and detail to the entire face than I had initially planned.   My original idea had been to keep it quite simple and just detail the eyes, mouth and perhaps a little bit of the nose but once I start I can’t stop.

I didn’t really know what to do with the hair.  I didn’t want to spend too much time on it as it as it isn’t the focus of this drawing (I’ll hit my hairdresser up when I want to do a hair portrait which will be like never).


I did this picture of Dutch model Daphne Groeneveld ages ago.  She had platinum blonde, almost white hair, styled in elaborate braids and dreadlocks.  On that occasion rather than try to draw the blonde hair, I focused on emphasising the low lights or shadows in the hair.  It gave it a more stylised effect rather than a realistic one but it was quite effective.  As Matilda has very blonde hair I thought I would try the same idea.

final-blog1.jpgIt’s all about Perspective

I am still not entirely cool with her eyes.  As my husband pointed out – ‘it’s all about perspective”.  If you compare the full face portrait with the close up, the cross-eyed look only really becomes apparent from a distance (i.e. in the full face portrait).  I guess I have learnt a valuable lesson about using selfies as a reference photograph and I will take a bit more care in the future.

Part 1 is complete and now to add the “makeup”.  My Photoshop skills are a bit limited (and my makeup application skills even more so!) so this will be a new challenge… stay tuned!


The Tools

Arches Drawing Paper 185gsm smooth A3

Tombow mono drawing pencils 

Staedtler Mars Lumograph black 6B