colourbuild up

Starting to paint a sketched out design is pretty nerve wracking. I mean you can sit for hours measuring, drawing and rubbing out a design to get it just right… and then you have to fill it in with some impossible-to-correct medium. And chances are when you start going over the design you think ‘Oh God this isn’t working… it looks really bad… what am I going to do?…Should I start again… should I just scrap it and give it up as a bad job?’ My message is no, PERSEVERE. It may look awful to start with but if you let the design and the medium have a little free will, you can often be surprised by the result.

When working on the Beerguide board for the Noels Arms Freehouse, I was working on a painted metal surface with ordinary wall emulsion paint. I had no idea if it would work or what the outcome would be. And at first it looked a disaster, the paint wasn’t covering well, the colours didn’t look right upon application and I wanted to give up almost as soon as I started. But I did persevere, adding a second coat of paint and suddenly it didn’t look so bad. It might just work.

The above image sequence shows the build up from line drawing to fully painted image, and here was my general thought process:

Line drawing: ‘That looks brilliant, if only it could stay a line drawing forever’

Brown shadow layer: ‘Argh, that looks terrible, the detail’s gone, what am I going to do?’

Orange layer: ‘That’s even worse! The orange wasn’t that bright on the paint can! This really isn’t going as expected.’

Yellow layer: ‘Wait, something’s happening, it’s starting to look like…something….’

Highlight layer: ‘Actually, that looks pretty damn decent’.

So the message really is PERSEVERE, it may not look great to start with but often artworks have a way of working out, or even looking miles better than you originally imagined.

And sometimes they don’t. But never mind, can’t win ’em all.

noels arms board1

Finally complete: The Beerguide Pub Board

I don’t usually rave about work I’ve done, I’m usually just content to say ‘Yep, I’m happy with that’. But now and again, as all artists/illustrators know, there’ll come a day every now and again when you finish a piece and think ‘Whoa, did I really do that?’ and then you’ll sit and stare at it for hours trying to figure out how you did it and why the hell can’t everything you do be that good?

And one such instance happened yesterday as I finally completed board one for The Noel’s Arms Freehouse in Melton Mowbray. I’d been looking into heraldry recently and marveling at the beautiful intricate, flowing designs of coats of arms and old-fashioned pub signs, so when the pub asked me to redesign their boards for this year, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to try it out. The logo for the pub is based on a shield anyway so the heraldry idea fitted in perfectly.The brief for the board was pretty small, mainly to promote the pub’s place in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2015 and having hops as the main focus of the design to promote the pub’s selection of real ale.

So after a creating a rough design and colour mock-up that were accepted on-the-spot, I received the first board and drew out the design. Two nearly solid weeks of painting later and I couldn’t be happier with the result. Nearly every inch of the board is filled with bold colours, the writing can be read from afar (importantly!) and the flowing design draws the eye around the board without getting lost in any one aspect. It’s like everything I ever tried to accomplish with a piece at university has suddenly all come together a year or so too late.

Never mind, the board is now expecting a coat or so of varnish from the landlord and landlady (who are thrilled with it) and it should be on the front wall of the pub very soon. And in the meantime, I can start on the second board. Think I might need today off though…

The gallery above shows the finished board, my initial planning and some close ups of details. Please feel free to NOT tell me about any mistakes I may have made/ any paint spots I’ve forgotten to cover/etc. !

Pub board progress – metallic typography


The original plan for the board was to have the text all in block white but after painting such a detailed border, it seemed a shame to make the text so flat. It’s been a long time since I last tried painting metal and I still have a lot to learn but I think this typography at least has turned out pretty well. I’ve still got to add in the reflections of the hops but I’m building up my courage to do that! I was hoping to finish the board today but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Still I must be about 3/4 of the way through so not too much longer now.

Sneak peek of pub board progress

Finally got the painting underway! I always find there is an anxious pause before painting. I’ve spent the last few hours sketching out a design that looks good in line form, do I really want to run the risk of ruining it with a paintbrush? I think it’s a moment everyone shares, especially when they’re unsure of how something will turn out but we conquer it eventually and so far the board is looking pretty good! (At a distance… if you squint…)

What I’m HOPING the finished board will look like (but neater)! :

CAMRA beer board

New front-of-house pub board designs

The Noels Arms Freehouse in Melton Mowbray has kindly asked me back to redecorate their front-of-house boards for 2015-16. Like last year’s boards, the themes are still ‘beer’ and ‘rugby’ but this years are to be a lot more text based. So here’s what I’ve come up with! Just got to whack some colours on in Photoshop and I’ll see if they like them!

2014’s signs:

Finished signs

‘Best Shop Front’ Winner!


Great night at The Melton Times Business Awards last night. For the past year I have been creating seasonal illustrations on The Melton Bookshop’s windows (see illustrations below) and a few months ago we found out we had been nominated for the ‘Best Shop Front’ award. Nomination proceeded to longlist, longlist to shortlist and last night we won the prize! So happy for the shop and childishly delighted to have my name on a plaque! It’s now standing pride of place in the bookshop’s window.


Spring – Aslan the lion


Summer – Sealife

autumn window

Autumn – Woodland beasties


Winter – many snowflakes