Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Cathy Cullis - a favourite artist

This time of year always finds me in a reflective frame of mind as I think of lost ones. Banks of yellow outside...

and vases of Spring flowers inside are perfect reminders of happy times and new beginnings.

I've long been a fan of Cathy Cullis' work so was delighted when she recently posted a painting of abstract daffodils on her flickr feed.

I treated myself to her abstract daffodil painting :-) whilst matching it with a donation to my favourite charity - Marie Curie Nurses

photo: Cathy Cullis
Cathy Cullis - daffodils abstract study - gouache

donate to Marie Curie here

Cathy's new paintings and drawings are regularly updated to her shop

Check out her blog and Facebook page too

recent work ...
monoprint drawings
morning drawings
jug with brushes
seedlings - oil pastel

Friday, 24 March 2017

guest blog with Craig of Fishink

It's been a busy week - my new book 'Drawn from Life' came out yesterday. It's always a busy time as social media becomes livelier than usual. In the past 24hrs I've had some wonderful feedback on Instagram. Thanks to all who have contacted me so far.

Now for the posting of this overdue guest blog article....

My old art college buddy Craig is known as Fishink. He posts great content to his blog every Monday morning (GMT). 
Last time we met up for a coffee and chat we decided to do a guest slot on each others blogs. He has very kindly posted my part of our swap-guest-blog here.

Craig says

Thanks to Helen for asking me to do a guest post on her blog, quite an honour! 

When we were considering a suitable subject to talk about, it didn't take too long for my thoughts to come around to dogs. The readers of my own Fishink Blog know that these furry friends are now, after all, quite a large part of my working day.

Helen and I met way back in the mid 80's and studied Textile Design at Nottingham Poly'. We not only used to go clubbing together to indie nights at tiny, hidden away nightclubs, but we also had a joint exhibition of our work, in a gent's clothing shop in Leicester. 

Helen created the poster background design. Back then I was more obsessed with fish imagery than dogs!

Textiles still play a part in the work I design today, however it's more about using pattern to work around my illustrations. 
I usually start with sketching

and they often end up as images for stamps, greeting cards

 or collages 

which I sell through the shop on my Fishink site

Dogs also often appear on my Instagram pages

and as I now have a dog of my own, a lurcher called Boo

I find she inspires me daily, in my sketches 

and also in the occasional textile design too

I'm even thinking of putting one of my cartoon dogs into space in a children's book 

… watch this space !

When I'm not taking on commissions for illustrations or collage work

I'm happy to collaborate with other designers and produce pieces from my sketches. 

or jeweller Heather Fox, who literally turned my sketches of Boo into silver

You can read more about the process here on my blog.

I hope you can now appreciate where my hound fascination comes from. 

Thanks again to Helen for the collaboration suggestion and let's hope we can do more joint ventures in the future, after all, it's fun to work with people you like. 

Friday, 17 March 2017

Drawn from Life - a new book

Just under 1 week to go before my new book arrives in the shops on 23 March 2017.
I can't pretend that the build up to its release isn't just a little bit exciting.

Helen Birch on Amazon
I did a quick interview last week with Pyramyd - the French publisher of the book... 

The interview is available on Pyramyd's blog

English version:

Helen Birch, author of several titles on drawing translated by Pyramyd editions, answers a few questions ...

Why did you decide to write some books about drawing techniques?

I’ve always been fascinated by the immediacy of drawing. The most modest of materials can render something special. I like the diversity and apparent ease of drawing too. Whether pencil on ordinary notepaper or more expensive drawing kit on on specialist papers….there’s so much to see, think about, share and experiment with.

Through my experience as an art lecturer I’ve demonstrated and talked about drawing techniques with students. I thought that the experimental drawing outcomes from these workshops were really exciting and that others should see them, so I started blogging as drawdrawdraw. Producing a series of books was the next logical step. These books have included drawings, illustrations and paintings from international contributors and cover a wide variety of techniques.

What is your favorite drawing technique ?

I find it difficult to pinpoint just one technique! 
I like such a diverse range of drawing techniques from fine line drawings, to huge dark and messy charcoal drawings. I get a lot of satisfaction from looking at drawings, thinking about what prompted them. I like drawings that reveal something about the person making them – their ideas, willingness to experiment, conviction, and depth of research. All of these decisions can dictate which art materials an artist selects and how they are handled and ultimately - the drawing they become.

Which artists inspire you?

Again, a difficult one. A constant is Matisse, as are the drawings of Ingres, Walter Sickert, Paula Rego, Lucian Freud, Elizabeth Peyton and Frank Auerbach. I also like the illustrations of Craig Thompson, Marjane Satrapi, Raymond Briggs and Joe Sacco. This list would change if I answered the same question a day later!

Do you have any other book projects ?

I’ve been thinking about putting together a book about how to draw abstract forms, colours and patterns. There’s also the potential for more books that explore other specific drawing techniques.

Helen Birch sketchbooks

The interview is available in French too

Monday, 13 March 2017

Blackpool: sand, sea & spray

Blackpool's urban arts festival Sand, Sea & Spray has been up and running since 2011.
If you visit this famous north-west UK seaside town in late July you can see the art being made 'live'. 
At other times a wander around will provide lots of surprises.

'Blackpool has hosted over 80 of the best street artists in the world and Blackpool has been transformed into an ‘open-air gallery’ of high quality art. If you look around the streets of central Blackpool you are sure to see one of over 100 amazing pieces of artwork on what used to be derelict dreary walls.'

I particularly liked this end terrace facade (from 2015) because of the way the spray paint has been handled in a linear way. These painted drawings remind me of ideas on a sketchbook page.

liking those angles...

and other random findings...

location of 'official' painting sites
and some unofficial ones...

Monday, 6 March 2017

Drawn from Life: social media

My new book 'Drawn from Life' is due out later this month - March 23rd to be exact.

As is usual before a soon-to-be publication date there's a flurry of social media activity and profile updating to do.

Last week I was busy on Flickr and Instagram. The feedback on Instagram was great - not only for my new book but for my previous publications Just Add Watercolour and Freehand too.

My Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn headers needed renewing next. 
A convenient discovery - a strip of 3 book covers is much easier to configure into a header space than 2 :-)

Drawn from Life is available in several languages

UK / US English
Spanish / Dutch
German / French
and Portuguese

update: just completed a Q&A with my French publisher - Pyramyd