23/30 Days of Illustration – Impressionist Temple

This blog started as Postcard Travels, where I illustrated actual blank postcards with scenes from places I’d visited. I’ve been very much enjoying my recent revival of this coloured pencil obsession. I love how much fun it is to scribble everywhere. It takes the fussiness out of drawing, removes that tight focus and allows me to be a little freer.

This drawing of a temple is one of my favourite ones so far.

I love how it’s almost like Impressionism; it gives you the idea of the scene, but if you look at any part of it too close, it just looks like a crazy collection of colours.

I also like the contrast of the vermillion temple building and the blue sky. For me, it feels like the end of summer, when the leaves are starting to turn.

The next step is to take my pencils and head outside to discover some beautiful sites for myself! I think I’ll wait for the warmer weather though…

22/30 Days of Illustration – a Moody Sea Scene

I find I haven’t gone travelling much recently. This makes me think of places I want to go, and things I want to do. Walking on the beach is one of those things.

When I was little, we used to go to the Gower in Wales. Although there were days when it was gloriously sunny, nearly every time we went, there would be a rain storm, or the sky would be grey and the sea frothy and murky. When I think of the beach, that’s normally what I think of.

I tried to put something of that feeling into this picture. Everything is dark, and the fully-clothed man on the left isn’t about to go swimming any time soon. Even though being by the sea is sometimes wet, cold and miserable, I love walking on the beach because of how alive I feel when I’m being buffeted by the wind or spattered by ocean spray. I hope I can go again soon, but until then, I have my paper and pencils.

21/30 Days of Illustration – a Monochrome Tree on a Misty Day

This drawing is of a bend in the river which I used to walk by a lot at my old house. This scene recalls a morning I was thinking of , when everything was shrouded in mist and the it was in the depths of winter.

I think this drawing acts as the basis for something else; I’d like to rework it into an ink drawing at some point.

It was interesting to only work with one colour. I’m used to using all the colours I have to hand, but limiting myself made a nice change too. Looking forward to reworking this into something bigger and more delicate at some point.

20/30 Days of Illustration – A Yorkshire house

My family have moved up to Yorkshire over the last two weeks. We do have family there, but I grew up in Herefordshire, and that still feels like home for me. Herefordshire is on the border between England and Wales, and many of the houses there are brick, or timber framed, quite different to the style I think of when I think of Yorkshire houses.

In honour of the move, I drew this Yorkshire house. I like the pinky quality of the colours and the softness of the stone. My image for this drawing was early evening, when the light catches everything and gives it extra colour.

I haven’t been to see my family’s new house yet, but I hope that I can soon.

19/30 Days of Illustration – Shiba-inu Puppies

I was trying to think of things which remind me of spring. I think young animals is certainly one, so I chose to paint some Shiba-inu puppies simply because I felt like I wanted to paint something adorable, and they vaguely fall into my ‘spring’ category.

I’m very happy with this painting. I love the attentive quality of the little puppies, and I think adding the tennis ball works well because it helps the viewer to judge their size. My family was lucky enough to have two dogs while I was growing up, but sadly I can’t have a dog of my own right now. Here’s Jingo, our dog back in the UK, who I miss very much.

He’s a very happy dog, and very loved. Even in this muddy state he would happily jump up to sleep on the furniture, and was rarely pushed off when discovered. I think he has my family well trained! Since 2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the traditional Chinese calendar, I’m hoping to paint lots more dogs to come this year.

18/30 Days of Illustration – Cherry Blossom

Here in Yokohama it’s been a snowy month, and I think everyone is waiting for spring. The first sign of spring in Japan is the plum blossom, which blooms from early February. Although I haven’t seen any around as of yet, I’m looking out for it!

This is a photo I took of the plum blossom last year. Plumb blossom varies in colour depending on the variety; from dark pink to white.

Today’s illustration is actually of cherry blossom, which flowers a little later.

Here is the painting in progress. I chose to depict the cherry blossoms in an impressionist way, focusing on the colour and atmosphere of the drawing, rather than attempting to paint the individual blossoms. I think this worked well, and the overall look is what I was going for.

The final illustration ended up like this. I like the duck egg blue background which I think brings out the pink of the blossoms. I’m happy with the light quality of this painting, and I hope I can see lots of cherry blossom this year when spring finally arrives.

17/30 Days of Illustration – Snow Monkeys

One of the things I still haven’t done in Japan is go to see the snow monkeys. These wild Japanese macaques are famous for their winter past time of relaxing in the hot springs around Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture. They are a popular tourist attraction, but when people do go to visit, it’s important to still be cautious and respectful, as these are wild animals.

When I was searching for reference images for this painting, I was struck by the human look of the monkeys. I tried to bring out this relatable quality in this painting. I’m happy with it and I like the expressions of the monkeys, especially the one on the right who looks very chilled. Although spring is on the way, it’s still fairly cold and wintery. I’m looking forward to the next time I can relax in an onsen too!

16/30 Days of Illustration – Strawberry Shortcake

I love painting cake but the downside is that I always want to eat it! Perhaps I should get some… you know, for reference! Today’s is a strawberry shortcake. I would like to buy or make these kind of cakes more often, but strawberries are expensive, so I only have it on special occasions. For now, this will have to do!

I think the strawberries look yummy, and I’m happy with how this turned out. At first I struggled with how to portray the light sponge of the cake, but keeping the colours bright and working with yellows, oranges and purples worked out nicely. I’m looking forward to the next time I can eat some strawberry shortcake!

15/30 Days of Illustration – Green Tea and Dango

Spring is finally coming to Yokohama and I was feeling inspired to paint some spring-themed paintings! Thought I’d start with dango. These little rice dumplings are yummy and also look really adorable. They’re often in shops around spring time, and are made in light, seasonal colours.

I started off mapping out what I wanted to paint, and noting the colours to keep in mind in the margin. The painting looked a bit dark at first but I was actually happy with how it turned out.

I like the spring-like quality of this and think it does look pretty yummy, if I say so myself :) Perhaps I’ll have a go making some this year?

14/30 Days of Illustration – Bouldering girl

Today’s illustration is semi-autobiographical. I recently started bouldering, the sport of indoor rock climbing. I really enjoy it! I run too, but I find bouldering is a really taxing sport for me which tests my body in ways I’m not used to. With running, I can tick along at a comfortable pace while I listen to music and my mind wanders. With bouldering, it’s so fun, totally engaging and produces full-body tiredness which is really satisfying. Here it is.

I wanted to try to produce an image with vibrancy and a bit of life, so I chose to work with ink lines and colour pencil. The whole drawing took no more than 10 minutes, which also gave it a bit more movement and a sketchy quality.

I was inspired for the angle of the drawing by this one which I took in 2016, but I wanted to make the subject female.

I’m looking forward to the summer coming again so I can get out and do some climbing and camping. I guess for now I’ll have to content myself with drawing the mountains and visiting the climbing gym!