I’m a bit conservative when it comes to trying new methods. My job is often limited by time so I tend to do the things that work. But that gets boring after a while.

When I was in art college I tried lots of different things but my butterfly brain would not persist with any of them – “can’t do that – too hard” *throws toys out of pram*

Now, with a little age and experience under my belt, I’m looking at new ways of doing things – ways I’d rejected before but remained curious about.

Last winter I signed up for a botanical illustration course – hoping to apply some discipline to my splishy-splashy style, and also to learn how to paint with watercolours, one of the most difficult mediums to master.

The Very Precise Style isn’t really me, but I’m enjoying it anyhow…

10887514_761809127234631_219316847201473626_o 11155095_812546242160919_7145262069798780958_o...and learning about watercolour has enabled me to use those skills to work out how to represent things in a more expressive way…afal


All this has prompted me to try other new ways of doing things. One of the materials we were asked to buy for the botanical course was a black fineliner artists’ pen. I have never liked such things, finding them clumsy and limited and difficult to use with subtlety, preferring a Bic fine biro for such tasks *cue singing of hosts of heavenly angels – best pen ever*

However, I’ve been using it more and more, and just now I created this raven. I would have been able to create something very accurate with a Bic pen – shaded and shiny and the filaments of all the feathers present and correct. However, the fineliner adds a character, an expressiveness, that I might not have been able to capture if I’d used a more subtle pen. There’s a solidity about her – her hulking form, her strength, the shine of her feathers. I’ve had to think much more carefully about how to represent her to get around the limitations of the pen, and it’s taught me a lot. I remember reading about a champion surfer who’d learned to ride waves on her brother’s broken board – if you can make something special out of whatever materials you have to hand then you’re on your way.