This Month I Have Been Mostly…

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Ready for the sequin-sparkle party.

1. Spending time with old friends…

In both senses of the word! Ha!

Not really, or at least the ‘old’ is just as old as me. This year, from 2014 and 2015, is the year of many friends turning 30, which has been a good excuse to celebrate and see people. At the end of January, I headed to Southampton for a weekend, to stay with Cath. We ate soup and homemade soda bread, made an enormous crumble and slept in a huge soft bed, full of blankets and layers, reading side by side, like Bert and Ernie. She expertly made me up for a sparkle and sequin themed birthday party on Saturday evening, for Lell’s 30th. I used to live across the road from Lell. It feels like I spent whole summers swinging on her swing set and walking up and down the bridges over a stream near her house. I borrowed her brother Rob’s bike to learn to cycle (in an extraordinarily wobbly fashion) on her drive and watched as she wiggled her baby sister Lara in the air above her, only for Lara to vomit in Lell’s mouth.

Getting to know the siblings and parents of your friends when you’re younger is something you don’t really think about, but there is something really special about growing up with whole families, which makes seeing them all really lovely. We ate and drank a three course meal. I sat next to the lovely Arnie, who I haven’t seen since her hen do last year. She played ‘Guess the Subject’ with the teachers opposite us on the table – rather successfully actually! Apparently you can tell the expertise, just by looking. Arnie had made a brilliant fold out timeline book, so everyone there could add themselves when they met Lell, with a note – I was trying to encourage her to do the same as wedding guest books.

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2. Jogging About

On 1st February, a bright and chilly day, I took part in a Winter Series 10k run. It started by Westminster and the route went up through Blackfriars tunnel, to the Tower of London, before looping back round, with a detour via St Paul’s and finishing back at Westminster. Phewph! It did feel like a rather long way. I was very lucky to have Mr Story to cheer me on, waiting at Blackfriars, which was the 2km point, the 6km point and 8km point, as well as being waiting at the end. He did well with cheering, providing Ribena and even jogged alongside here and there. I did enjoy it – the atmosphere was good, and it wasn’t too painful, and it was fun to run along closed roads, along the cat’s eyes of Blackfriars tunnel, and past St Paul’s as the bells rung. I wasn’t trying too hard to get a particular time – instead seeing how fast I would go, if I followed my own pace, which turned out to be an hour and just under two minutes. Now I just need to book another one, to keep me jogging…

The Story House Colour Collective

My Colour Collective Illustration based on Flame Red

3. Taking part in the Colour Collective

If you’re an illustrator and like Twitter, or if you just love illustrations, I recommend following Penny Neville Lee. Not only am I COMPLETELY in love with her illustrations – they are bright and light and full of charm and character – but she is incredibly supportive and encouraging. She also hosts and promotes the Colour Collective – a project where illustrators use a single colour as a prompt, one per week, and then all post illustrations based on that inspiration at 19.30 on Friday evenings. It’s great to follow – it fills your Twitter feed with colour and many beautiful illustrations. If you prefer Facebook, you can see the collections of images here. It really helps to highlight the extent of creativity, the range of styles and ideas, going on behind the scenes, by illustrators every week.

The Story House Wind in the Willows

A sneak peek of a detail from Wind in the Willows themed wedding stationery

4. Getting Excited about Weddings

January is always really exciting and busy in the wedding industry. As everyone suddenly realises they’re getting married soon, I start receiving completed questionnaires, and embarking on designing some bespoke wedding stationery. I do love the process of packing the stationery full of details and personality. I’m currently working with a couple who make me smile, just because of the sheer joy and beaming smiles that emanate from every photo they send through – they’re having SUCH a brilliant time together, ski-ing and sailing and eating and drinking. I’m also really enjoying drawing out the details of another couple – also full of beaming smiles – who are including Irish, Indian and Australian culture in their celebrations. Yesterday I drew Ganesha and a Koala too – never a boring day here. If you are interested in bespoke wedding stationery and would like more information, click here.

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5. Hourly Comic Day

I’ve been trying to expand and test the way I draw, and I’ve recently started becoming much more interested in comics and graphic novels. The combination of images and text can be really powerful, and really suits the way I like to read and understand characters. I don’t draw comics myself that much, but there are a lot of brilliant web comics to read out there. Hourly Comic Day happens on 1st February, and comic artists must draw a comic frame or strip every hour, all day. I took part on 2nd February, after spending 1st February jogging 10k around London. I enjoyed the pressure of it – using both ink and the short time frame meant I had to act fast, and not be too precious about each image, and live with the splodges. Mine are very amateur comics though. If you want to see how it’s done well, have a look at Kristyna Baczynksi, Dan Berry and Sarah McIntyre, or search Hourly Comic Day.

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