Friday, 2 September 2016

So what do you want to know?

I have nearly 1.5k followers on my facebook page, which is amazing, so many comment and like as I add new work. For me it's a quick platform to show what I'm working on as I'm creating them. Finished pieces get added to my website.
I read recently that art is not about the work but about the artist themselves, this got me thinking, yes maybe that is partly true. Ask 'Joe Blogs' in the street to name an artist and most likely they can, but can they name a piece of that artists' work...hmm not always so easy.

So I asked my 'followers' to post questions to get to know more about me as an illustrator/artist... so here we are, tried to put them in some logical order...

How old were you when you realised you had artistic talent?
That's an easy one. I came from a very creative family. Mum was an art teacher and artist and sold her work in Libertys and Harrods. Dad was a photographer. Nana a self taught artist. So it was inevitable I'd follow there somewhere. I always had art pads, pencils, crayons etc. And Mum, being a typical mum kept so many. I think at age 5 I did a small picture that Nana and Mum hung in an exhibition along side their work, it sold and yes at that age £5 for my little picture was a huge deal!

What artists inspired you?
So, so many! Family obviously, but they collected old childrens book and I grew up entranced by illustrators like Rackham, Nielson, Clarke. A family friend Victor Wood was a friend of Harry Clarke, always scared me, (he had a glass eye), but one day this amazing man took me to his back room studio, sat me down and taught me to draw folds of fabric. He was patient and kind and encouraging, and I still think of him when I draw fabric.
Modern day illustrators like Shaun Tan, Catherine Rayner, Anita Jeram, Mick Inkpen, and Nick Butterworth are just a few that inspire me, there are so many and yes despite my own children being in their 20's, I do still buy picture books. (this is just a very small selection!)

What's your most memorable moment as an artist?
Ah, one that was a huge turning point in my self confidence... a few years ago I was asked to exhibit in an exhibition to celebrate local children's book illustrators. I politely explained that I wasn't published, but they insisted that I show anyway. Along came preview day, some amazing illustrators were showing including Helen Oxenbury (We're going on a bear hunt), Margaret Tempest (Little grey rabbit, another big childhood influence) and the amazing Nick Butterworth. Wow I thought, there with such names, I expected my work tucked away from such greats, but no, to my huge honour my work was hanging alongside Nick's Percy the Park keeper! Yes I had a 'moment' totally amazed to be considered worthy enough, but like I say, it made me realise that yes maybe I was, am good enough.

What is your favourite/most treasured tool of your talent?
My old drawing board, my home made light box, sable brushes and my imagination...boy that sounds cheesy, but I'd be lost without it! oh and sketchbooks, always keep a sketchbook, I often refer back to old ones for ideas.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
Inks. good quality inks, light fast ones. there are some out there that are not, see below as an example of poor light fastness (strips of colour were painted and half covered and left in daylight for a couple of months...scary hey? that could be your most prized piece of work faded!)

Inks are great for vibrancy of colour, transparent to build layers, which is what gives my work depth. I use them in a similar manner to watercolour but find the inks don't 'muddy' with over working.

Where do you find your inspiration from please?
Authors get "writers block" - do you ever have days when you just can't paint?
Random places for inspiration. A friend a while back posted a photo of her new old writing desk and it sparked an idea for a story (which I started to write) but the images of the mouse that lived secretly at the back of the drawer were so bold in my head. But it can be from snippets of news, nature, my local beach, comments from children, pretty much anywhere. And yes sometime I do get artist's block, those are turned into long walks in woods or the beach or sketching days, just sketch anything, and yes those days are frustrating but thankfully few. More often than not my head is too full of ideas.

What one thing would you like to accomplish before you die?
Ah that's easy, a picture book (many if possible) that is loved by children and parents, one that is read over and over and is dog eared and well loved. To be able to walk in to book shops and see my books on their shelves. I'm not bothered by making a fortune from it (good job as it's unlikely) just enough to pay the bills and be comfy but mainly the knowledge that my books are loved.
I working on it, Mouse's Star is coming on and I'm determined to get it published, it may take many rejections and heartache, but one day I hope to see my work in print.
Hey a girl can dream, working on fulfilling the dream isn't an easy path, but one I'm enjoying as I sit here in the peace of my studio and do what my heart screams to do. I have limited edition prints of some of my work for sale, along with originals. I take commissions and yes if you are an interested agent or publisher I'd love to hear from you!
twitter @bluebutterfly48

Friday, 24 June 2016

Pigs Go Wild!

Wow yet again I have been so head down with work, that I haven't blogged for ages, woops!
Well here I am with news of what I have been doing and how you can get involved too.
Towards the end of 2015 a call went out via local press and radio for local artists to get involved in a fabulous opportunity.

St Elizabeth Hospice has teamed up with Wild in Art to stage Suffolk’s biggest ever mass-participation, public art event – Pigs Gone Wild.

The interactive sculpture trail will feature 39 large pigs across Ipswich. This summer, from 27 June to 2 September, you will be able to follow the trail, collect points with our Pigs Gone Wild app and to try to see as many of the sculptures as possible.

The pigs, beautifully decorated by artists and generously sponsored by local businesses, will be on show for 10 weeks this summer. They will be joined by a sounder of junior pig sculptures designed by local school children and teachers, which will appear in litters across the town.

So not having ever done anything like this before (comfortable working 2d hand drawing at my trusty old fashioned drawing board) I decided to enter. I did 3 designs using my usual 'play on words' theme and entered 'Hamlet of Ipswich', 'Porkman Road' and 'Piggyback', then the long wait for Pigs Gone Wild to shortlist all the final submitted designs. A long wait, but worth it as my designs were selected and then in March (I think, it's all a blur!) these were then put forward for sponsors to select.

I was so chuffed when I got a call form the lovely Norman at PGW saying that Suffolk County Council wanted to commission me to design their own pig. 'Making a pig's year of it' was designed to celebrate the year of walking. This character pig is wearing seasonal footwear on his trotters and has a backpack filled with the things walkers should need and take on walks.

Well then a dear friend with a van (thank you Ruthy, something we will forever giggle about) and I went to collect the blank pig, it was like the Chuckle Brothers getting him in and out and into my not very big studio, but very funny to watch and painting of 'Wilbur' as we nicknamed him commenced. About half way through painting him Norman called again to tell me I had a sponsor for Hamlet, great I thought he will be fun to do too, so said yes of course.

So 'Wilbur' was finished and collected by Pippa and Jack only to be replaced with another blank pig. Hamlet was a challenge converting a simple 2d drawing of an Elizabethan ruff onto a 2m long 3d pig was with quotes and flowers and intricate detail, but I was so pleased with the result, but alas poor Yorick didn't make it on to the final design as we didn't want to upset any visitors.

Pretty much no sooner had I daubed my first dollop of paint on to him, did I get another call from Norman 'You have another pig!' he says excited down the phone, 'Ipswich Town football club want Porkman Road' (for those not footy fans ITFC's ground is down Portman Road... see what I did there?)
So like a weird case of deja vu, Hamlet left the building and blank 'porky' arrived, Pippa and Jack having got the hang of my narrow doorways!
'Porky' probably looked the simplest to create but painting I think is was 13 tiny Adidas logos on tiny trainers on pigs trotters possibly has to be the weirdest thing I have ever painted. Tiny fiddly hand drawn logos and matching the ITFC blue and the 2016/17 kit, 40 hours of painting later he was ready for collection.
So the three big pigs were done, normality resumed in the studio (sty as my hubby renamed it)
Time for normal artwork to resume I thought, then along trotted a mini pig. Holbrook Primary school children submitted their designs to school and I was asked to help with a final design and paint him. We took elements form many of the designs to wrap up in to Mr Hog (named after one of their teachers), he was then painted in 2 days at the Suffolk show with the help of some of the children. His design celebrates landmarks of this year and the Holbrook community.
So now here we are at the end of June and the pigs are varnished and ready to trot on to the streets of Ipswich on the 27th of June through to the 2nd September.
This is a wonderful opportunity to see amazing art on the streets of Ipswich over the summer.

There is a fantastic prize that everyone who completes the trail will be entered in to. It is a luxury family holiday break at Woodfarm Barns. For more information on this amazing prize just go to

After you have enjoyed Pigs Gone Wild during its 10-week extravaganza, the large pig sculptures will be auctioned to raise funds for St Elizabeth Hospice.

So please come along during those few weeks in the summer and enjoy the wonders of this trail and the amazing hard work that has gone into the decoration of the pigs and the organization of this great event, and help support your local hospice.

For further details go to and keep watching out in the local press too.

And if you want to see the photos of the pigs I have painted and the time lapse films of their creations, check in to and please do share your selfies there of you and my pigs! Hope you all enjoy the trail, it will be wonderful.

The Pigs Gone Wild app will be available to download from both Apple and Android stores, from next week. The trail map is being distributed to a long list of locations today and the beginning of next week and is available to down load here...

Pigs Gone Wild Official Sticker books will also be available to buy in all local East of England Co-op stores.