Me and Brain – The Making of: My Kit

I started drawing Me and Brain on any old bit of paper, any sketchbook, with whatever was to hand.  Although it suited my need to get things on paper as inspiration struck, keeping a record and a sense of continuity throughout the comics became more difficult.  Having scribbled on different papers with different pens, it helped me decide which tools would be the best when I decided to draw Me and Brain comics with more consistency.

sketchbookSketchbook: It’s an A4 book decorated with stickers – sometimes I wonder if it’s the most important ingredient of the Me and Brain process…  The paper is pretty middle-weight, about the 120gsm mark, smooth, and not too absorbent as I found that some papers would make the ink bleed, ruining any crisp lines I had intended.

Pen: I discovered I’m relatively uninitiated when it comes to pens.  I usually prefer to work with dip pen and ink – however that would not work for the flow of ideas.  Me and Brain focus on stream of consciousness content rather than technical ability.  The fineliner pen allowed me to put down lines immediately without having to sketch first.  It also has the immediate, slightly more finished look which I felt that pencil didn’t.  drawing-tools

Pencil:  I do however use pencil for Brain.  Using different tools means that I can give Brain some texture without obscuring the face.  The pencil is a mechanical pencil with soft 0.7 lead which has lived in my pencil case since the beginning of time.

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Me and Brain – Our First Conversation

It pains me to think that I used to love blogging, and it’s been 6 months since my last isolated post.  I neglected to feed my ‘inner artist’ for a while, choosing study and workaholism instead.  I felt like I forgot how to be an artist, bereft of the joy it brought to my life.

You may or may not have heard of Julia Cameron, or the book she wrote called The Artist’s Way, but in it she talks of your creativity as an energy like a child.  It is your duty to nurture this ‘artist child’ so that creativity can flow.  I found it interesting to think of creativity as a separate entity that existed within me.  It gave my now neglected ‘inner artist’ a different sense of self.

In the thick of my study-and-workaholism time, I set some time aside to ‘go be arty’.  Having previously chosen to spend all my art time as study time, this ‘go be arty’ scheduling was an oasis of fun in a desert of seriousness.  I readied my pencil.  Draw something.  Anything.

The blank page stared back at me.  The oasis was dry.

Frustrated, I angrily berated myself for not being inspired. I had put aside precious time and my inner artist was not performing as I was instructing it to.

And that was when my inner artist spoke back.

As I grew to understand that my creativity could be a separate entity, it gained its own voice.  This is how my inner artist manifested itself – as Brain.

Brain showed me that my inner artist is not a performing monkey.  Brain argued back when I was busy telling it off for not being inspired.  Brain would make me realise when I was being totally unreasonable.  Brain is often the uncensored me.

As I had this conversation with Brain, I drew and wrote it down.  At first I tried to make it neat, so that drawn Laura looked more like real Laura but the speed in which I needed to get the drawing on paper wouldn’t allow for neatness.  So I drew myself as a stick person; Brain was a sort of speech bubble with squiggles.

I have since had several conversations with Brain, always helping me stay true on my path of creativity.

Below is my first conversation with Brain:

me-and-brain_1sm

Revolver Rum – Colombia V Cornwall

RevolverRum-Header-ImageAs I’ve probably mentioned before, I do enjoy a good spiced rum.  So I was pretty chuffed when one of the creators of Revolver Rum contacted me to ask if I could bring their new rum to life, via the gift of illustration.  The idea was to bring out the inspiration and ingredients that went into crafting the rum, having had influences from Colombia and Cornwall (where the creators come from).

I took elements from both locations; you’ll see parts of the landscape and landmarks of Bogota, Colombia, along the left side of the picture, balanced with Cornish locations on the right – you may spot Restormel Castle and St Michael’s Mount.  IMG_0092

Despite the left and right sides of the picture having a Colombia V Cornwall divide, I wanted to make the image flow as well.  The ingredients were an important aspect of the image, which I spaced out according to how the flavours hit the palate when you drink it.  I also included the copper still used to concoct the rum in the first place.  I’ve got to say – there’s something really appealing to me about the shape of the copper still they used.  It’s all round and wiggly – I love it!

I used a limited colour palette, taken from the colours Revolver Rum was already using.  At first I tried to have the colours balance out more evenly but as the painting took a life of its own, there was a real sense of day and night, giving both a sense of separation as well as a natural flow of one running into the other.

It was a challenge fitting in so many elements but it I’m really pleased with how it came together – I hope you enjoy it too.  If you’re a fan of rum yourself, you can try or buy, just check their stockists on the Revolver Rum website.

Watercolour painting of Revolver Rum, with inspiration from Columbia, Cornwall and ingredients; including the Bogota landscape, vanilla, cocktail umbrella, spider, chocolate, rum barrel, crow wing, copper still, st michael's mount, Restormel castle

Commission for Revolver Rum, to create a painting inspired by the elements that went into creating the rum.

 

Gorgeous Buildings and Bristol Concert Orchestra Poster

I just love to draw gorgeous buildings.  Yes I know, it does sound strange coming from someone who regularly talks about Budapest - St Stephen basillicahow much I enjoy drawing an animal roaring, leaping and generally being beastly.

The thing is, buildings have a lovely contrast to the speed and kind of energy used in my drawings of living creatures.  My style doesn’t change but I like the results I get when applied to a structure – giving a solid building a life and character of its own.

Watercolour painting of a house by Drawesome Illustration, Laura Elliott,

Painting of a person’s home. Private commission.

I like searching out the details with my pen or pencil, working with the weight of the line to add depth, finding which colours to bring out, and quite often when I’m taking time over these longer drawings, I find myself ‘in the zone’ happily spending hours drawing a building to life.  This is true for when I’ve worked on private commissions for people’s homes, as well as various landmarks.

One of the buildings I’ve painted is St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol.  This 4th July, Bristol Concert Orchestra – the oldest orchestra in Bristol – will be performing at St Mary Redcliffe as a venue for the first time.  I’m very pleased to have my artwork displayed on their poster adverting the event at this exciting time for the orchestra.  Poster for Bristol Concert Orchestra's performance illustrated with a painting of St Mary Redcliffe by Drawesome Illustrations, Laura Elliott

How to Say I Love You

Valentine’s is a tricky road of cliches and panic.  And love.  Yes, there’s some of that too.

If you’re looking for a slightly more creative way of showing some adoration, here’s a tip that I like to work with:

Do you have a favourite hobby/food/place/activity?  It’s a little unconventional for sure, but telling someone that you love/like/fancy them more than a particularly prized object or activity gives a tangible comparison.

For example, I LOVE granola.  So much so that I took to eating it for breakfast every morning.  Then I started lovingly baking my own.  Sometimes I’ll even eat it for not-breakfast.  Now and then, for a treat I’ll keep a shot glass of granola to hand so I can nibble on it whilst I’m working…

Anyway, if I’m to tell my partner that I love him more than I love granola, then BOOM: that’s a mighty comparison right there.

I also like this technique from other perspectives too.  This was the line of thought behind these pictures:

If I Was…

Something I like about the words ‘I love you’, is that they are so universal in concept that there are lots of ways of expressing them.  My personal iterations tend to be quite off-beat, which helps me come up with some incredibly quirky ways of saying ‘I love you’.  I like to think that I’m not the only person in this world that has a quirky interpretation of love, and that my professions of affection are romantic and not… Just plain ol’ weird.  I’ll let you decide for yourself…pen and watercolour painting of people running from a dinosaur

Dancing Robot Busting Moves

Have you been awesome today?  If so, this robot is dedicated to you.  If you’ve not been awesome, feel free to look at this page on a day when you are.

 

watercolour painting of a dancing robot