Exhibition on Brick Lane, London

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It has been over a month since I had my art exhibition on Brick Lane in London. We called our exhibition “The Swifts are Coming” to celebrate the change of seasons and the arrival of spring. It is the first exhibition in a series of shows that we have decided to do this year with the idea to create artwork reflecting each season.

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Setting up and deciding where all the artwork should go was my favourite part of hanging the show. We arranged everything in a day pretty much intuitively and I was really happy with the outcome.IMG_9181

All my work was painted on transparent plastic and glass and seeing it in the proper gallery lighting was really satisfying.

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We also exhibited our ELVIS and APRIL prints which are created by experimenting with repetitive printing and layering on an office photocopy machine.

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Thank you for everyone who visited the exhibition and showed your support 🙂 It is time to start thinking about the next show!

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Markersss!

This is a selection of my latest abstract squiggles from my sketchbook. I think that random doodling is a sure way to access your subconscious mind, in a spirit of Surrealists and Dada artists. I really like creating artwork which is spontaneous and unplanned, I like choosing random colours without any specific reason, but purely out of my intuitive urges. This type of art-making is also very relaxing as it lets your mind relax. I like to listen to music when I draw so the artwork is a direct response to the track that I am playing. The types of marks are surely affected by the beats and rhythms of the songs. Are you a doodler?

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A really scary bathroom story for Halloween

The brief for the second week of my course was based around phobias. What a good timing for the week before Halloween!

My project developed from my real phobia of pipes (yes, I DO have a plumbing phobia). Seeing big uncovered pipes gives me shivers, and I am also wary of bathroom taps. Seriously, my biggest nightmare is about overflowing bathtubs!

It all starts with a girl having an innocent bath.

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She gets attracted by the plug hole…

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and then … gets sucked into the pipe.

Little Book of Bathroom Scares

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She travels through the dark sewage tunnels.Little Book of Bathroom Scares

And she encounters the horrifying and mystical world of the water systems.

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Little Book of Bathroom Scares

Until she makes it safely back to the comforts of her bathroom.

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Little Book of Bathroom Scares

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Pheeeeeew…

It makes a great bathroom reading, trust me!

Chelsea Book Illustration course – Week 1

I have signed up for the Book Illustration course at Chelsea College of Arts – exciting!

The first brief that we were given was to illustrate a day in life of me. Actually, there were a few briefs on offer, but I felt that this one would be the most fun since I quite enjoy sketching things around me already.

Here are some of my favourite illustrations that I produced for the project in the first week.
One Day in Cambridge illustration
One Day in Cambridge illustration One Day in Cambridge illustration

One Day in Cambridge illustration

The process of creating a watecolour illustration: Italian meats

For the past few weeks I have been busy working on a new series of illustrations inspired by Italian food. Everybody knows that food from Italy is the best, right? Well, there is an Italian cafe in Cambridge which serves the most delicious pizzas, gelato and other authentic gems of Sicilian cuisine. It is called Aromi and I have been a regular since they opened.

I decided to capture the lively atmosphere of that place through a series of illustrations. And I can proudly say that the first artwork is now complete – Yey! And here is how it came into being.

I started with a very rough pencil sketch which I did from a photograph I took in Aromi earlier. Usually I tend to use a random mix of colours, so this time I challenged myself to create some sort of “colour chart”. Well, this was an attempt to map out the main colours.

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So, here we have a bunch of garlic, chillies, cured meats and something else in the middle which I am not 100% sure about. Possibly – cheese!

Next, the fun and slightly scary bit – actual painting. I am getting used to just sitting down and painting whatever I need to paint, and I almost always get slightly nervous sense of excitement in the beginning. I used flat brushes and worked with a mix of wet and dry watercolour paints and a little bit of white gouache.

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I really love making texture with dry brush.

After that, I thought that I needed to add some background. In Aromi they have those beautiful Italian tiles with Mediterranean patterns. So I definitely had to paint those. I deliberately made the paint strokes”loose” rather than precise and rigid, as I think it creates a warmer, friendlier feeling, which works so perfectly for food illustration.

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Even though I loved doing tiles, and I ambitiously planned to do the whole lot, I resigned after just two rows. Because, well, Photoshop exists! I love that stage in the project when all the actual painting is over, and with it all the exciting nervousness, and then comes the time to scan the drawings and delve into the comfortable and mistake-prone land of Photoshop!!! Then I can just relax and casually sip my tea.

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So, I have put the two painting together and … Ecco! (according to Google that’s what the Italians would say). I was pretty happy with my picture at first. The more I looked at it, however, the more I realised that the flatness of it started really bothering me. I knew what it was: I had to add the shadow. So next morning I created this somewhat fancy shadow using two layers, masks and blending settings. It didn’t need to be that complicated, but I like to try new things. And here is the result…Aromi’s Italian meats! Enjoy. And if you live in Cambridge make sure you go and try their food – it’s delicious.

 

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I will be posting the remaining illustrations next week. If you have any friendly criticism or positive feedback, do leave me a comment! I’ve never received a comment on my blog yet, so I will be jumping up and down happily if (when) I get one.

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Ordinary worms and hula-hooping worms

I am working on a new self-initiated project at the moment, which is about the British hedgehog. One of the illustrations was meant to be about things that hedgehogs eat: worms, slugs and caterpillars. But it developed into a story of its own.

First I painted some ordinary worms using quick gouache and watercolour painting.

Here they are, just your ordinary weekday worms, doing their business.

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Then I had an idea….

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Hula-hooping worms!

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They look like they are having fun.

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Drawing with ink and stick

For the past few months I have been working on a new sketchbook dedicated to ducks. Now I have scanned it and I can finally start putting it out online.

The first instalment of birds starts with this gif of pruning swans.

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Actually, the weather turned rather grim here in Cambridge since the time I drew this picture. So this is a little bit of wishful thinking.

I drew everything with ink and stick. The stick was made from an old Ikea pencil, which I wrecked rather brutally for the sake of art. Sorry, Ikea.

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Drawing with a stick is wild, it does a great job when you are frustrated with your clean boring lines and need a bit of a shake-up. You can use tree branches and all sort of other sticks for an even wilder result.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photocopier + prints

Photocopier print on sugar paper, 2015Creating images with a photocopier is my latest craze.

It started with watching Frieze video about Fraser Muggeridge, where he is discussing appreciation of analogue means of production and the unrefined appeal of an image created with a photocopy machine. Muggeridge uses photocopier creatively to enlarge and distort the image, then scanning it back into the computer to be re-worked further. This idea comes as a revelation to me, as for a very long time I have been fixated on learning my way around design software in order to be able to create the “professional” look that I have always admired so much. The thought of using something as mundane as a photocopier to create a design which is just as credible as one created using digital tools has been liberating for me to say the least.

I also came across the People of Print website, a good resource related to all things printmaking, where I learnt about amazing machines like risographs, which print layers of artwork in different colours.

Inspired by riso, but without having the access to the actual machine, I decided to hack my humble photocopier at work. I split my photo into various layers on computer and then used a photocopier (set on a single-colour print setting) to print the layers in different colours onto one piece of paper.

Here is what the result looks like. This is a photo of my cozy work table at home.

The fun part started when I tested the zoom settings and enlarged my images to 400%. These lovely abstract prints came out.

I wrote about the idea of randomness in idea generation before, and this printing process fits the bill perfectly. I felt a lot of excitement and surprise every time I worked with a different zoom setting, as I had no idea how the image would come out.

I admit that I developed a secret obsession with a photocopy machine and I look forward to my daily photocopy fix. Indeed even the most humble things have a tons of creative potential.

NEW poster (inspired by Corita Kent)

Discovery of the week for me is the work of Corita Kent –  a “charismatic nun, artist and activist” from 1960s America.

Corita Kent, Beatitudes Wall, 1964, Collection of United Church of Christ, Courtesy Corita Art Center/Immaculate Heart Community

I am excited by the raw, bold nature of her work, with colours and text screaming cheerfully at you. Corita Kent used silkscreen printing to create these large posters, and so I was also inspired to work large scale.

I had a few monoprints I did earlier lying around, so I cut up some of them into thin strips and started collaging.

Oh the joy of re-arranging paper! It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but with so much design work done on computer these days, in the detached “safety” of the screen and without much physical action involved, doing something as simple as manually moving some sheets of paper by hand becomes a revelation. There is something much more intuitive in seeing the real thing in front of you, being able to touch it and create a change not relying on any technology other than a gesture of your hand. I think I am slightly envious of 1950s’ designers  – they had to work with their hands most of the time.

After looking at the typeface medley of Corita Kent’s work, I obviously had to add some text to my poster too. The word “new” came to mind, and I resorted to my usual stencilling technique to print it.

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Result!

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Switching back to digital tools, I used a sketching app on my phone to draw over the photo of a poster and quickly turned it into this little Lunar New Year greeting.

I am surprised I didn’t find out about Corita Kent’s earlier. There are no strict rules or grids in the way she uses type, which in my opinion makes her posters expressive and free. She was also an inspiring teacher, and I wish I could attend her workshop somehow! Finally, here are the 10 Rules for Teachers and Students by Corita Kent and John Cage.

Sister Corita Kent’s 10 Rules for Students and Teachers – See more at: http://alfalfastudio.com/sister-corita-kents-10-rules-for-students-and-teachers/#sthash.sAPgLHwU.dpuf

If you want to learn more about Corita Kent, there is a comprehensive article about her work in the Eye Magazine and I also found a great selection of her images on Galerie Allen website.