This is a proper catch up session. I moved my blogs to publish on Wednesdays because I get through a lot of work over the weekends which I finalise at the beginning of the week, so it makes more sense; but now I have 10 days worth to talk about.
The headlines since my last entry are a new pattern (above), reworks of old patterns (top image and below) and a major reorganisation of my files and iPad.
Reworks were mostly to create half-drop patterns from old grid ones, having decided I don't really want to make grid patterns in future because of their 'bang-bang-bang' appearance which works well for some designs, but my recent work suits either half drop or brick repeats.
For this rework I replaced some elements with ones I am interested in at the moment - so now it has constellations, planets, stars and a flying saucer instead of big round flowers and circle shapes. I have also made sure that I keep colour separations for changing colourways using clipping masks; previously I was relying on colour drop, but I have found there are good days and bad days for its success in iPad. On a good day all looks fine, but on a bad day the dropped colour creates a halo, omits pixels and renders edges shaggily on even the clearest and simplest shape. It's a bit rough and I require reliability and quality, so now I use colour drop only for quick sketches to see how a colour might work.
My major reorganisation was to create folders (stacks on iPad) for colourways so I can clearly see how designs work together in a set colour scheme. It was getting rather bitty and confusing, and I was losing track of what I had and hadn't done with each palette. It also makes it easier to offload work onto MacBook to free up space on iPad, then retrieve designs to continue work in another palette on iPad, where each stack now has its own 'header' image with its colourway clearly displayed.
It's a great feeling to clear everything down and establish order.
Thanks for visiting, see you next Wednesday, if not sooner with more catchups!
On Wednesday I made these two collages with last week's kite pattern, mixing them with a new version of a geometric design from last June, and a daisy one which is in progress at the moment. I am always trying out different ways to present my patterns in a lively way, rather than just showing them as a flat section. I am pleased with the freshness and clarity of these two.
Thursday afternoon brought the glad arrival of two old friends from college days for an overnight stay, and on Friday morning I had a most valuable discussion about the book project I have been working on with pointers on how to approach my next one. I am enormously grateful to have learnt so much from my friend, and for his kind interest in my work, leaving me full of ideas. Then more joy followed on Friday evening when Molly arrived to stay for a week with us.
All our happiness, however, was in direct juxtaposition with the incoming horrific news of the invasion of Ukraine. Just as we were beginning to feel things were returning to some kind of post-pandemic normality, forces of evil invaded the lives of hundreds of thousands of East European and Russian citizens, robbing them of their peace, security, and normal lives.
In the light of current affairs, my happy work looks out of context; there can be little happiness for all those people at the moment, and my heart genuinely goes out to all those people affected by this unprovoked and barbaric action: not only the direct victims of the assault, but also to the people of Russia who do not want this war and do not condone these actions. I am trying to think of something I can do to express my support for them, but it all seems so trivial in the light of their sorrow.
I made a peace poster for Ukraine which I posted here on my Heather Eliza blog.
It has been quite a busy week, in spite of the two bank holidays on Monday and Tuesday. I took down the Christmas decorations on Wednesday, which took all day; Thursday and Friday saw two social engagements, the first we have had for such a long time it was overwhelming! Having to take lateral flow tests and observe social bubbles adds quite a lot to a day with an event. I have been a couch potato ever since; this afternoon I am lounging on the sofa, laptop on knees, dressed stylishly in a fleece Minnie Mouse onesie and a dressing gown decorated with koala bears with ears on its hood, with a hot water bottle and a snuggly blanket to add luxury. I haven't made any new work since before the Christmas period, so today I'm posting the collage above which I made on the 19th December.
Thanks for visiting, see you next week!
These two little bears I drew earlier in the week look so dorky they made me think of space cadets. Something must have crept in unconsciously, because at the time I hadn't realised what a big space week lay ahead ...
On Wednesday William Shatner, Star Trek's beloved Captain James T. Kirk, blasted into space at the age of 90 aboard Blue Origin's NS-18 suborbital flight of the New Shepard spacecraft. Looking out of the window he had an overwhelming vision: the Earth teeming with life, in contrast to the deathly span of space. He commented: "We need to take care of the planet, but it's so fragile. There's this little tiny blue skin that is 50 miles wide, and we pollute it, and it's our means of living." (Video and article on Space) Shatner's (or should it be Captain Kirk's?) comments have been hailed as an 'ode to planet Earth'. I'm not surprised, there is poetry everywhere in this.
As if this wasn't enough, yesterday satellite Lucy was launched on a mind-blowing mission to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids in search of clues as to how planets formed at the beginning of time as we know it. The asteroids are thought to be remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets. (Article and animation at Nasa) Apparently the satellite will never come back to land on Earth, it will just fly around in orbit for 100,000 years. I'm not sure if that is fascinating or really, really scary.
As for these two, back on Planet Earth, I'd love to know what that cat just said to the bear! Cat is clearly huffy and the bear offended. I don't know how these expressions get onto some of my characters, but put together they form a most comedic narrative.
Thanks for visiting, see you again soon!
A run of beautiful warm sunshine this week proved a big distraction - I didn't want to be indoors at all. We had a couple of barbecues, one evening we ate our evening meal as a picnic on the grass. The next evening we lit the barbecue again, but while we were cooking our marinated spatchcock chicken which I had prepared earlier in the day, the cold came back in and we retreated indoors to eat.
I did get my sketchbook and paints outdoors, though, and the pop-up tent went up as my 'outdoor studio' - which I am pleased to report I am getting quite proficient at folding up and putting away now. Last year there were a couple of hysterically hilarious antics, not aided by wine and B cracking jokes at my attempts. I bought the tent in 2016 and have used it every summer since, so 5 years practice is finally paying off!
Oh, the joy! Real paper, real paints, real everything again. Overnight this week it suddenly became spring, and there was warmth in the sun meaning I could get back into my work room. It's freezing in there and dark over the winter, but this week I opened it all up again and the absolute joy of natural work spilled out all over! So exciting - I have wanted to paint monsters for ages, so I started work immediately with a wild prolific madness. I am so genuinely happy!
Don't get me wrong, I thank the Lord (and B!) for my iPad Air which has enabled me to keep producing through the most difficult of times, not just cold weather but during my parents' decline in health, the subsequent house move, and selling our former house during the horribly difficult times of the Covid plague. Periods when I didn't have a room at all, just shuttling back and forth in a car or a removal van and providing for wonderfully supportive friends who pitched in to help. Recently I have derived immense satisfaction from finding a way to make perfect patterns with basic technology digitally 'by hand' that's not actually carving woodblocks, and I've come a long way without Adobe products or automated patternmakers.
Being a trained painter, though, nothing beats the mess and randomness of the studio and I am so, so happy to be back. The freedom!
I should also mention B and I had our first dose of Oxford AstraZeneca exactly one week ago today. It was an extremely well-organised event, really quite an exciting and pleasant experience with wonderful and competent NHS staff and heating in every booth. No side effects or symptoms to report, we should have some level of protection by next week.
The other day the world gave a deep sigh of relief, picked itself up, dusted itself down and moved ahead full of new energies and optimism. I don’t know if I’m imagining things, it’s below freezing here and there is snow and ice - but also blue skies and later sunsets, and in the adjusted angle of the sun there already seem to be whispers of spring and the colours of birds’ eggs, rivers, icing on a cake, such gleeful secrets full of hope.
Trump's last day and Biden's inauguration.
Thanks for visiting, see you next week!
I have been so grateful for good weather recently - for getting washing done and out on the line! I have been doing daily washes of B’s work clothes and weekly washes of dust sheets (there are about 8 massive sheets plus old bedsheets) and towels while he has been redecorating the old house, in readiness to hand over to its new owners. The regular loads of towels and bedding also must not be neglected, and I also capitalise on good drying weather to launder all the dog’s bedding. Yes, she has a bed in every room and the task of stinky-fighting is never ending. On top of that, house guests who impatiently waited for lockdown restrictions to be lifted have come tumbling in through the door in a whirlwind of joyful reunion - more bedlinen, cooking, barbecues resulting in a delightfully busy time.
So, I haven’t yet managed to start back at work yet quite as full time as I had imagined. I have started gathering things together, but that’s as far as it has gone. The photo above is a detail of my shopping list on the fridge door the other day, showing creativity must out one way or another! Doodles everywhere.
Thanks for visiting, see you next week!
We have just had the busiest 3 weeks. As soon as lockdown restrictions were eased here in Scotland it was all hands on deck as we focused our full attention on our old house which has been on the market for nearly two years. We do have buyers, an enthusiastic young couple who are a perfect fit for the property and itching to move in, and it was actually all systems go on the sale back in February. Of course everything then suddenly came to a halt, and we couldn’t even get out to the house to do routine maintenance and cleaning etc until 3 weeks ago.
It’s an old house and had been sitting empty all through the winter followed by lockdown, but in all that time it had fared better than expected. Nonetheless, the usual list of tasks and jobs had stacked up along with the cobwebs, and naturally we wanted to make sure the house was as spick and span as possible before the buyers made their first visit since before lockdown. It was lovely to be back there, cleaning and repainting, warming the place through and generally bringing it back to life. It was a very rewarding time, but any thoughts I may have entertained about getting any artwork done during that time quickly vanished. Also, we had disconnected the phone and internet when we moved out, so no blogs or Instagram happened at all! To cap it all, once we finished work on the house we both came down with a nasty norovirus type tummy bug last week.
However, everything is done and we are much better now. The world is beginning to open up a little into the ‘new normal’ and things are moving on - so I am hoping that this coming week I will be able to start getting back into my work. I always try to make both my blogs as different as possible to reflect the differing areas of my work, but naturally, as Binky McKee and Heather Eliza Walker are actually both me, this week’s entry will have to do for both! Although I did post a winter picture here and a summer one on Heather Eliza's blog, so they are a bit different.
Thanks for visiting, see you next week!
Welcome to my illustration blog! I usually post here on Wednesday, sometimes adding extras to keep a work journal.
I illustrate under the pen-name of Binky McKee, McKee being my mother's maiden name. Binky was the name of every single cat my great-grandmother kept - allegedly about 40 of them during her 94 years of life.
Currently I am working on illustrating a children's book, pattern making, and setting up a Spoonflower shop.
I hope you enjoy your visit!
I keep lots of scrapbooks and sketchbooks where I develop ideas and design little creatures. Here's a peek inside one ...
As you may know, I am also known as Heather Eliza Walker.
Click the image if you would like to find out more and visit my other website.
This time, take a peek into my ceramic design sketchbook. I actually made some of the mugs, but I kind of prefer the drawings! The plate designs are painted on paper plates, a most liberating process.
These watercolours are from my pattern sketchbook. I used coloured wax crayons to resist the washes of watercolour, also home-made rubber stamps dipped in bleach then printed on crêpe paper - the bleach takes out the paper dyes.
A sketchbook I used for mark-making with unusual objects - corks, seed-heads, feathers, home-made rubber stamps, my fingers and lots of flicky things ...