Jungle Mural

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Finally had a chance this week to take a trip over to Langham CofE Primary School to see my mural in situ. The mural measures around 2.5 x 2.25m, is painted over 6 MDF boards using matt emulsion and took about 6 weeks to complete. The brief was for the mural to be, above all, colourful, have room to display students’ work and have a jungle/ruin theme to tie in with Indie and Anna, the school’s adventuring mascots. Indie-Anna. Get it?! Oh dear.

I’m really pleased to say the mural has been received really well by staff and students alike and is now up pride of place in the school’s assembly hall 🙂

Harry Potter-inspired tattoo

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Tattoo design for my friend and work colleague who is Harry Potter mad :). Original request was ‘a snowy owl with the deathly hallows symbol’, but this soon flourished to incorporate lilies and a Felix Felicis bottle. My friend loved the design and is taking it to see her tattooist very soon, I’m really looking forward to seeing the result!

Leopard Empress

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I’ve been commissioned to do a lot of black and white illustrations recently. When this occurs, I often find myself creating a vibrant, colourful illustration on the side. It’s almost like a vent, letting some of my creativity escape the confines of the commission. Weirdly, I don’t find these pictures a distraction, rather they keep me on track. Ok, they take a little time efficiency away from the project I’ve been set, but if I didn’t have this outlet, I’d get frustrated with having to work continuously on one piece, or one set of images.

This particular image was created while working on a set of black and white illustrations for ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3’ published by Mother’s Milk Books. The leopard empress is inspired by neotraditional tattoo artistry and was an excellent image for practicing shading and colour blending, particularly in the leopard’s muzzle. I also added a little shading behind the leaves and leopard to help the design pop off the page 🙂

Bearskin and Bare-Skin

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Have you ever wished you were something other than human? Wished to experience the soaring bliss of the eagle? The soft midnight hunt of the wolf? The gentle, ferocious power of the bear?

When infant Ursula gains unlikely foster-sister Bernarda, a brown bear-cub, the pair form a relationship closer and deeper than any human siblings could. A relationship that the villagers are unwilling to accept. As prejudice boils over into violence, the sisters’ world is torn apart, and they are separated in the chaos. Thus begins Ursula’s journey, to find her lost sister and discover her true self.

‘Bearskin and Bare-skin’ by Carys Crossen is the thirteenth short story in ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3’, published by Nottingham-based independent press Mother’s Milk Books. Visit their website for more information, a copy of TFATF3 and a peruse of their other works.

‘Flower-Face’

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What does it mean to be a woman? From the moment she is born, a girl’s identity will start being forged. Elders, peers and social expectations will all assist in shaping her understanding and growth into the confusion that is womanhood. A confident sense of her self-worth is a bonus. But what if these guides had not been present? ‘Flower-Face’ by Ness Owen tells the tale of a grown woman – crafted from flowers – created with the sole purpose of becoming a wife. Alone and confused in a world of rules and traditions, she must meekly follow the wishes and guidance of her creators until a time when she has grown strong enough to start shaping her own destiny.

‘Flower-Face’ by Ness Owen is the eleventh story to feature in ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3’, published by Mothe’s Milk Books. Visit their website for a browse of their reads :).

The Lost Children of Lorenwald

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Forests. Ancient twining havens for all manner of fantastical beings, from tiny imps hidden in the lichen to long-forgotten gods slumbering between the roots of a giant oak. Forests have a curious pull over all of us but no more so than the Lorenwald. Child after child has been lost to it’s beckoning depths. Now it is a forbidden place, shunned by the local villagers for fear of the unknown. Can a wandering songwriter unravel the mysteries of the Lorenwald and discover the fate of the lost or will she too be claimed by the trees?

‘The Lost Children of Lorenwald’ by Elizabeth Hopkinson is the seventh short story in ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3’ published by Mother’s Milk Books. Visit their website for a browse of their published works.

Melissa’s Bearskin

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The phrase ‘finders keepers’ has tripped off the tongue of all of us in childhood, mostly instigating little consequence. However, when young Melissa declares her right to a bearskin discovered in the forest, she never suspects that the selfish act will begin a tale of want and regret, of first love and lost love, of motherhood and heartbreak.

‘Melissa’s Bearskin’ by Ronne Randall is the fifth story in ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3’ published by Mother’s Milk Books. Visit their website for a browse of their books!

The Autumn Phoenix

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I really don’t like summer and I realise that announcing that makes me somewhat of a heathen – in Britain at least. No, autumn is where it’s at for me and I look forward to it every year. I think it’s the colours. I love seeing the masses of green foliage cycle slowly backwards through the colour wheel to the fiery brilliance of the yellows, oranges and reds that set the countryside ablaze, made all the more bold and stunning by the heavy roiling greys of the frequent storms. This is my time of year.

But I wouldn’t want it to last forever. Change has to happen and it is perhaps the driving force of all inspiration. Routine breeds complacency, especially in art. It’s difficult to balance the aim of mastering a technique whilst remaining open to new ideas and processes, and that is something I really struggle with. But I’m working on it. I think I have backed into my little hermit shell with my penwork of late and consequently my reluctancy to risk adding colours to designs has returned somewhat. So no more! Inktober’s coming up (what?! Only two days to go!?) and although undoubtedly the majority of my work will be in monochrome, I will be continuing my colour studies alongside.

And during that 31 day period, the countryside will be dropping its leaves as a phoenix drops its feathers in preparation for rebirth. The foliage, once so fearsome in its blazing hues will shrivel to brown and lie as ash beneath our feet.

‘Time is Running Out’ – (save our bees)

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Sitting in the garden at my parents’ house – I would sit in my own garden but my own gardening skill amounts to horticultural genocide, thus there are no plants to observe – it’s difficult to believe that the bee population is in such massive decline. Their garden is, literally, swarming with bees – I swear they must have at least 50% of the UK’s bee population in their backyard. It’s an anaphylactic nightmare.

Still, it’s suprisingly therapeutic watching them go about their daily pollen-collecting and distributing enterprise with such dedication, most likely completely unaware of how much of a benefit they are to us in the process. According to the ‘Bumblebee Conservation Trust‘s website, bees (alongside other pollinating insects, can’t give bees all the credit), contribute ÂŁ400 million per annum to the UK economy alone, just by pollinating commercial crops. There’s nothing like a millions-strong monetary statistic to kick government conservation schemes into action.

Although many independent schemes have been established to help conserve bee populations, the battle to halt their decline is really just beginning. Even the smallest green space – even a plantpot will do – can help in providing bees with the floral resources they require. I myself am refusing to pull up the one stubbornly thriving plant in the garden – a now 6-foot tall weed, unfortunately – as the bees seem to love it. That’s my small contribution until I acquire some green fingers. But the most important thing to remember is that we can all help out and show our appreciation to the bees. 🙂