Watercolour painting of a grey rainbow breathing unicorn by Laura Elliott of Drawesome Illustration

Unicorn Make Over

Unicorns have had a long history in mythology; with what started out as attempting to catalogue creatures from far off distant lands, later turning to something with a more magical quality.  Notoriously difficult to catch, they could once only be lured in by virgins; now they’re everywhere and everyone’s friend.  It’s a great thing to know that unicorns have finally decided to share their magical qualities with the rest of us, even becoming vengeful when called upon.

So yes, unicorns have been around a long ol’ while.  And as with any story, like Chinese Whispers, the details get warped from time to time.  I like to question and play with what is understood about this creature: why is it still white if its qualities are not so pure anymore?  What would happen if rainbows came out of its mouth instead of its butt?

sketchbook drawings of horses by Laura Elliott of Drawesome IlllustrationAs I form ideas about what I want my unicorn to look like, I start practising drawing horses.  Horses are notoriously difficult and after the first few wonky horses, I’d wonder why this was a good idea…  Despite this, my way of tackling challenging shapes is to draw them over and over and over again, so that each time, my hand to eye co-ordination comes to understand the shape and weight of a horse; the power, the gesture, the lines I need to communicate ‘horse’ to any viewer.

Once I eventually find the shape I like, I’ll trace it onto my watercolour paper, ink it up and head on in with paint.  Before I even touch the main image with paint, I’ll always have a test sheet nearby or use the corner to make sure I’m mixing my colours correctly.  You can see some of my tests with the rainbow effect for a rainbow breathing unicorn.watercolour painting tests on paper by Laura Elliott of Drawesome Illustration

Once I’m ready to go, I usually try to paint it in one sitting.  Watercolours can be quite unforgiving and personally, I find it works best if I work quickly, to make sure I’m happy with laying my paint down with different tones and blends before everything gets a chance to dry out.  I know other painters have a slower approach but this is the one that I find suits me.

There’s a lot of grey in the final unicorn, as you’ll see below.  One of the things I love about paint is that it allows me to only work with three paint colours: red, yellow and blue (in warm or cool palettes).  The grey, believe it or not, is made by just the right blend of red, yellow and blue.  No black, no grey, no white.  Amazing huh?

Maybe in a future blog post, I’ll talk about the magic of grey…

But for now, here is a bad-ass rainbow breathing unicorn:

Watercolour painting of a grey rainbow breathing unicorn by Laura Elliott of Drawesome Illustration

 

Big Toothy Robot

Today I drew and painted up a toothy robot, inspired by a pencil sharpener (if you can believe it).  It doesn’t have a name yet – what do you think it should be called?

Pen and ink drawing of a robot from 2 different angles

pencil sketch of a burlesque performer with white feather fans and a white costume

Burlesque Sketches

As a warm up for my drawing, I like to do a lot of figure sketches.  As I have a fondness for burlesque, a lot of my sketches revolve around that theme.  Behold, a feathered lady and an aerial hoop artist.

Monsters And Robots – Slugors

pencil drawing of a slug and scissors inspired monsterI’ve devised a warm up activity that is a great way of creating monsters and robots – I’ve also decided I should start posting them so you can see!  Please meet my monster called ‘Slugors’, he hides in your garden waiting for the prime opportunity to climb up your trouser leg. He likes to eat the contents of your pocket, from pocket fluff to coins.

 

A Piece Of Silly

I came across some narwhals on the internet today and this idea fell out of my brain and onto paper.  I thought, ‘if I were a narwhal and had access to marshmallows, I’d totally do this’

narwhals roasting marshmallows on a volcano

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searing temperatures notwithstanding…

Gossington Music Festival – sketches

A few months ago, I was at Colston Hall in Bristol watching 4 men set fire to the air with fierce gypsy tunes hailing from Django Rheinhardt era; the more familiar modern tunes that have been ‘gypsified’ (my favourite perhaps being a piece I recognised from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack); and even classical pieces played with more speed than thought humanly possible.  These musicians form Gypsy Fire and I thorougly recommend you check them out.

I had a quick chat with them over the merch stall at the end of the gig and they recommended if I liked gypsy jazz, then I should come to Gossington Festival (which is run by one of the guys in Gypsy Fire).  I adore gypsy jazz, so fast forward a few months and I find myself in Gossington.

leon hunt n-tet - one of the band members in dungarees at gossington festival.  And man playing guitar during a jam session

The Friday and Saturday comprised of music that was a bit more mainstream folk/gypsy, headlined by Bristol’s own Phantom Limb on Friday and Seth Lakeman the following day.  Sunday was for the hardcore gypsy jazz fans.  The audience were treated to gypsy jazz royalty including Tchavolo Schmitt who I particularly enjoyed watching – he didn’t bother with a sound check and went straight into the set (with no set list), leaving the bass player and rhythm guitarist to just catch up.   It was fab watching random jamming sessions strike up throughout the day as well (the guitar player on the left in the above picture is from a jam).

gossington festival - trio rosbif pencil sketch

During the weekend I had a new appreciation for double bass.  I mean, look how sexy that double bass neck is:

gossington festival - sketch double bass and christiaan van hemert

It’s sexy right!?  Those curves are gorgeous!

I had such a great time and really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere which helped the creative sketching juices.  I particularly enjoyed drawing people performing and the instruments they clearly loved.

Zooray!

I hope you appreciate my mashing of ‘zoo’ and ‘hooray’ together for the title of this here entry – I felt it summed up the entry well as  I was able to spend the afternoon at the wonderful Bristol Zoo Gardens last week; like a kid in a candy store, stuffing my sketchbook with visual goodies.  Unleashed into the zoo I didn’t know where to start first!  A couple twists and turns found me some birds, the only one that sat still enough for me to vaguely capture it was a special magpie thing that I forget the name of…

azure-winged magpie

pencil sketch of black cheeked lovebird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it was an Azure-winged Magpie, at least that’s what oh-mighty-google informs me it might be.  There was also a  delightful collection of black cheeked lovebirds too.

Daffodils are always good fun to draw with their wiggly trumpets –

pencil sketch daffodils and lavender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found feeding-time at the meerkat enclosure.  There were little babies scuffling around, they were so cute!  I bet they’d look cuter in my pocket…  As it was feeding time and they were twitching scampering meerkats, my sketches of them didn’t turn out so hot.

 

meerkat pencil sketch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apes and monkeys seemed better at holding still for a wee bit longer –

pencil sketch gorilla

 

 

 

 

 

 

pencil sketch of a howler monkey

pencil sketch of howler monkey staring out a window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pencil sketch of ring tailed lemur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a go at some mark-making with the different types of trees I could see, as well as playing with blending, getting the right colour, for the tulip tree flower I drew.  Some other plants featured too:

 

 

collection of trees at Bristol Zoo Gardens

various flowers at Bristol Zoo Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the zoo was emptying out and the zoo was within minutes of closing, I couldn’t not get some lion action!  Although considering the image I got, I don’t think action was much on his mind…

 

 

pencil sketch of lion sleeping in the sun at Bristol Zoo Gardens