The Story behind my First Limited Print Collection

The Story behind my First Limited Print Collection

At school I was told that it’s not possible for me to be an artist and to make a living. The starving artist trope lives at the heart of my existence purely because of well meaning adults giving me advice in my formative years.

In part, that is the reason that I became a scenic artist, it was a sort of compromise between what my heart was calling for me to do - become an artist - and what I’d been told was a practical thing to do - find a well paid career path that will give you a sense of financial security.

At the end of last year I realised that I simply wasn’t happy. I felt so frustrated because I couldn’t put my time and energy into what I felt was my true calling, I was so wrapped up in a scenic job (which I didn’t hate but I didn’t love either) that I had no energy to do anything else. I was frustrated because I felt stagnant, I wasn’t moving in the direction I wanted to go in and I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. In all honesty, I’m not sure I could even properly acknowledge what I wanted, I just knew I needed a break and to start following my heart rather than my head.

This year so far has been a lot of self discovery. A lot of mindset work to untangle a whole load of limiting beliefs and self sabotaging behaviours. I finally feel like I’ve started to listen to myself, tuning into my true dreams and desires. Ultimately, I want to make a living off of my art. I dream of my work being displayed in galleries, in stores, of evoking emotion in people through my work.

This print run is my first tiny step in that direction.

I’ve spent the last 4 months generating work for the hell of it. Generating work to build an illustrative portfolio. Generating work to try and discover who I am, what my style is, what my visual voice is. Naturally, how do I create work that is really and truly me?

These questions are only answered through doing, through generating work and seeing what resonates both with me and with others. I don’t necessarily have any solid answers to these questions yet but I feel like I really am getting somewhere.

This print run celebrates some of the work that I have made and what I have learnt from each painting. So I wanted to write this blog post to show you how each print came around and what I learnt from it.

Let’s dive in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bears

These two prints were the result of an animal life drawing class with imagery from adventure_amy as inspiration. It is originally painted in acrylic paint in a short window of time - no more than 10 or 20 minutes. I love creating timed pieces because there is a looseness and playfulness that comes out in my work when I’m set a challenge. Ultimately the stakes are much lower, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is because it only took me 10 minutes.

I personally love the textures of the bears fur and each expression on their individual faces. These are images that helped me to play with paint in a new way, laying down bigger bolder strokes and working with shape first. These pieces have influenced all of my work since their conception. I learnt that I work better with colour and shape than I do in simple linework, that it’s okay to be playful and to focus in on what interests you rather than attempting to capture the full image in all of it’s technicolour detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Character

These two images are intrinsically linked for me. This little dragon character is something that I have drawn again and again and again. I still don’t have a story for him or even a name (I’d love to hear your suggestions!) It’s funny because this dragon was originally in black and white in my sketchbook. I almost didn’t turn up to my desk that day. I just didn’t feel creative. But before I knew it this little character was dancing around my page. He had a life to him that I knew was special and so after a lot of working out these images came around.

This was probably the first character that I created that felt true to me. That still feels like he has a real life about him. This character unlocked something within me, it was probably the first time that I really believed that I could be an illustrator and that children’s books was definitely something that I wanted to explore further. This character is pinned above my desk as a reminder that I can do this, that I can take myself seriously and he never fails to get some lovely comments over on social media.

I will find a story for him one day, until then I’m sure he’ll keep springing up in my work reminding me that anything is possible, even on a day when I’m not feeling my best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats and Dog

Cats and dogs are something that springs up consistently in my work. These two paintings were actually from two different drawing sessions from lovely Morgan at oddorange.stationary. Again these are the magic of timed drawings. I love the textures in these two pieces specifically. The speed with which I had to move my brush gave me some really lovely marks that denote fur.

These two are also a further expression of my love of shape first. Neither of these were drawn out first, I simply laid down blocks of paint in the general shape of the animal and then worked with tone and line on top of that.

Despite definitely being a dog person myself I do have a soft spot for these stretching cats. They remind me to have a little stretch myself before a big day and really remind me that it doesn’t have to be complicated to be beautiful.

Rolling Hills Landscape

This piece was something that I painted pretty mindlessly at the time. I was on a business coaching zoom call and I just wanted to move my hand, play with colour and paint a landscape. I really enjoy painting landscapes, I love being outside, find a great sense of beauty and tranquility in nature and it’s always a subject matter that I return to when I’m feeling stuck.

Looking at it now I can see that this piece encapsulates the sense of freedom that I experienced in a similar wheat field when I was 16 and falling in love. It is a dreamy landscape that encapsulates how nature can take your breath away. I included a small church to break up the landscape and bring us back to the modern world whilst keeping the piece picturesque and timeless.

Shopfront

Another timed piece from Sarah Dyer’s patron. If you read my weekly emails my love of Sarah’s patreon will be no surprise to you, I love soaking up her wisdom and she naturally selects imagery that really pushes me outside of my comfort zone. Shopfronts isn’t something that I would have chosen to draw myself, I wasn’t sure how I would accurately depict with my shape first approach and whilst I don’t mind things having a slightly wonky character if you push it too far it does just look wrong.

But I showed up and I found that I actually really enjoyed this session. I even took some time after the session to work each piece up on my iPad and that is when some of the magic happened. This was probably one of the first times that I felt I truly elevated a piece of work by processing it on the iPad. I now love mixing digital and traditional mediums to keep my work playful and editable.

Similar to the bears I feel like this piece unlocked a new piece of the puzzle for me and has had an impact on all of the work that I have created since.

Jazzy Snail

This piece doesn’t run as deeply as some of the others. It was only ever a quick painting that was part of this repeating pattern that I created as a response to melanie.johnsson's pattern challenge prompt 'shells'. Something fun to push me to see if pattern design was for me. I really enjoyed creating this pattern but found getting my head around how to stitch it all together was a bit intense.

I do love how the snail is grounded and clinging onto a tiny branch, this print really encapsulates my love of nature and how I can get lost in those tiny details in my work. Somebody recently commented on this piece saying how perfect it would be for a potting shed or green room and I honestly couldn’t agree more. It is a way of bringing the outdoors in and showing how we can all achieve great things if we just hold on.

My Dalmatian and Me

This print was inspired by my own childhood dog Heidi. I grew up with a Dalmatian from the age of 5 and this image is a reflection of our relationship. This is an incredibly personal piece of art for me and something I really enjoyed creating for the pure joy of it. It’s not part of a series or plan just something that came to me whilst I was doodling in front of the TV one evening.

This was the first time that I really injected my personal memories into my work and it happened so naturally that it makes me want to create more one off pieces like it that encapsulate how I feel about certain hobbies or interests in my life. Watch this space…

Bear and Mouse

This piece was the result of a combination of character sketches that I produced whilst I was generating an illustrative portfolio. It is actually one of the few pieces that I created entirely digitally from a whole host of other imagery that I hadn’t realised would work so well together.

I was inspired by the juxtaposition of the very natural look of the bear in his usual habitat and the personified mouse chasing after him and this image has been a catalyst for more images.

Essentially this image sparked a whole book idea which I have now submitted to the McMillan Prize, keep your fingers crossed for me! I’m so proud of myself for actually coming up with a narrative and starting to work through the process of creating a full on picture book for children. I’m hopeful that this piece of work will help to kickstart my illustrative career but if not it’ll always be a pretty special image for me.

Lighthouse

This print was the most recently created in this small collection. I actually had no intention to paint anymore landscapes and then I had a bit of a creative block. So I decided to generate a quick landscape painting from a royalty free image on pexels to kickstart my creativity.

The wonky composition spoke to me and I ended up really enjoying working into this to create a slightly atmospheric landscape. I loved leaning into the free flowing nature of the sea verses the stability of the cliffs and it quickly became one of my favourite landscapes to date.

All of this is to say that I’m really proud of this first print collection. These prints are limited and will only be available on my shop until midnight on Thursday 4th May 2023. I’m planning on releasing a set of prints or maybe even original artworks as part of a monthly (ish) drop of artwork so please do sign up to my emails to be the first to know when a new artwork drop is coming!

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