Take a look at the beautifully colourful world of Chloe Owens, full of 60s flower prints and vibrantly patterned animals. Scrolling through her website is a feast of creativity, and is well worth perusing. But be warned, you’ll come away bursting with inspiration, enthusiasm and oh so many things for your next Christmas present list!
It is no secret that I have a great fondness for foxes, and regular readers may remember several posts outlining or illustrating various reasons for this. Although it has been many months since I have mentioned them, do not assume that this is because I no longer think of them; it is merely because I cannot seem to find the time to make as many declarations of my love as I would like!
I have, however, been taking quite a few country walks recently, and these have given me some lovely quiet moments with a sketchbook. In true British summer style, the weather has been a little intermittent in the last few weeks, pouring with rain one moment and overflowing with warm sunshine the next, but on the dry occasions I have taken a few art essentials with me on my wanderings. There are some lovely worn footpaths which trace lines across fields of long grass and it is not uncommon to spot wild rabbits and deer in-between the occasional dog walker.
I quite often find a seat on a dry-stone wall or patch of mossy grass and fill a few pages with doodles and thoughts. The process verges on therapeutic, and these quiet moments are wonderful for planning new designs for my shop. Last week was perhaps a more obvious example of this, when I caught sight of a red fox along the edge of the wood across the field from me. Without my glasses on she looked like an orange smudge in the distance, but she slid into focus once I had retrieved them from my bag.
Perhaps she wasn’t used to humans, or perhaps she didn’t see or smell me sat upwind, or perhaps she simply did not care that I was there, but she came towards me in an unconcerned trot.
It was one of those instances when you daren’t move for fear or spoiling it, so I sat very still as she approached. She was a healthy fox, unlike the ones that has moved into my garden some years ago who had been covered in mange. She had a sleek coat, and a thick tail, although she was a little smaller than I had expected so I wondered if she were young, or if it were just because she was a vixen? I briefly wondered what she was doing out, being a nocturnal animal, but then decided it was relatively early in the morning and she may be on her way home for bed.
When she was about five meters away she caught sight of me and froze. We had one of those frozen and assessing moments, that seem to last longer when you’re involved in them than they do to those on the outside. Then she turned tail and melted into the shadows of the wood.
I had been thinking of heading back to my studio at that point, but instead I rummaged in my bag for my flask – for I sometimes bring a flask of tea with me on these occasions, never knowing if I will stay out longer. It is a lovely mustard coloured flask that came with a picnic set I got last winter in the sales, and I am very fond of it. Settling down with a cup of tea, I began another series of drawing of foxes. But once I had finished a few, I moved on to rabbits, who had been frolicking on the other side of the field during my drawing, and then an Eurasian Eagle Owl, which I had not seen, but had been on my mind a lot these days.
When the weather began to turn, I packed up my sketchbook and pencils and continued my walk home. Back at the studio, over another cuppa (raspberry and Echinacea herbal tea, this time, my favourite right now,) I coloured my drawings and scanned them in for preparation to transfer them onto tote bags for my etsy shop.
My weekend was well spent with a visit to Prinknash Abbey Deer and Bird Park. Being the nearest animal park to me and one that homes beautiful deer that eat from your hands, I have made a point to go to Prinknash as often as I can. This visit was, thankfully, full of sunshine and friendly birds. I fell in love with a peacock, and spent an hour drawing him in my sketch book, whilst he pranced about proudly in front of me. One of these doodles made it onto a tote bag and is for sale in my etsy shop.
I am working on some more of my deer doodles, planning on making a papercut or illustration from one or two of them.
I also have a great fondness for the goats at Prinknash, having spent well over thirty minutes stroking one lovely black and white goat who seemed to love the fuss. I wonder how much proper strokes they get, considering many children visit the park and tend of give a few giddy pats and squeal with delight when the goats eat from their hands.
I am hoping to upload my new drawings and designs this week, and have so many exciting plans in the making, so expect more animal inspired crafty goodies soon!
A few weeks ago, when the countryside was covered in a beautiful layer of frost and the cannel had mostly frozen over, I went for a walk with my camera. I didn’t upload them at the time so these are perhaps a little out of season now since the weather has warmed up considerably in the last week!
It’s been such a wonderfully busy week in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, but I’ve finally found time to finish off some papercuts and upload them to this blog and to my etsy shop. The first follows along the Valentines theme, with a decorated heart and the delicately cut words ‘You Make My Heart Sing’. I am very fond of the two little birds in this, and the ornate decoration took such a long time to perfect! When designing papercuts, it’s really important to make sure the lines are all connected so that it doesn’t ‘fall apart’ once you begin cutting. I quickly found a good way to work this out is to draw the image in pencil, then go over it in pen, checking all the joins. It sometimes takes a little while for your eyes to adjust to which bit is being cut out, so I usually scribble a pencil shading on the cut out bits if I keep getting confused! The image is then scanned into my computer and printed out on thin printer paper, and attached to a piece of card so that printer paper acts as a guideline for where to cut the card. It’s really useful to masking tape it to a self healing cutting mat to stop them sliding around as you cut!
The second is inspired by all the fairytales I’ve been reading lately, and features a fairytale scene with an elegantly written ‘Believe’ across the page. I spent such a long time picking out coloured card for backing, and eventually decided on a lovely light blue shade which always reminds me of the painted illustrations in old fairy story books.
I really love the imperfections that come from hand cutting paper, but I wanted to be able to sell multiples of these at a reasonable price in my etsy shop. I decided to compromise, by hand cutting both of the designs and cutting electronically cut duplicates for my shop. I am hoping to have many more papercuts availible soon, as I enjoy the process of designing and making them so much!
Sharon Montrose’s animal photography encompasses both domestic and wild creatures, often removed from their natural environment and photographed against bright, neutral backgrounds. There is something beautifully stark about the detail of the shoots, and the seemingly unfazed appearance of the subjects. Whilst delightfully characteristic shoots of dogs and cats abound, with several of her books dedicated to them, I am particularly interested in her photographs of wild or woodland animals. Each photo is consciously aware of negative space and seems to sentimentally capture the essence of the animal. Whilst her images are frequently used commercially, reasonably priced prints are available to buy for home decor, along with books of photo collections. I also recommend taking a look at her Dog Photo Booth, a personal project from outtakes of photo shoots.
I have recently stumbled across the collage animal images of Jason LaFerrera. Each image is constructed digitally from maps and cartographic materials, considering the natural habitats of the animals and the relationships between these environments and regions. I really enjoy the layered nature of this work, although I prefer a more tactile texture of physical collage rather than digital works like this. The series of images seem to question the concept of boundaries, be it the animal’s territory, the ways in which humans create boundaries between themselves and nature or the division of land or counties, together with the impact these have on the natural world.