My Choice to use an Earthy Palette

Art, Creative life, Uncategorized

You may notice when you look at my art that it is often quite muted and earthy in colours, and that is a by-product of the materials I choose to use. I love bright colours in my personal life, but for my work I’ve chosen to go with a more muted colour palette, as it’s often better for myself, others and the environment. I prefer to keep my sustainable footprint as small as possible by working with found, recycled/rescued or upcycled materials where I can, and in particular ones that were made with as few harmful dyes as possible.

Of course, sometimes nature provides a way of working that gives spectularly pure colours (I’m looking at you, indigo), and some of the materials I’ve used happen to have been bright pops of colour, such as the off-cuts of industrial faux-leather I’ve used in my bags in the past.  More often though the less harmful dyes are of course, more earthy. I have used un-bleached cotton  and linen in things like my zipped pouches (I’m working on a new range!), which instead of bright white gives a lovely warm beige. Paper from recycled pulp is also often of mixed fibres, resulting in natural melange of soft colours.  I also love working with recycled paper for my lino prints and the handmade cards.

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Unbleached cotton for one of my hand-painted zip pouches

My pregnancy this year spurred me to make a change to my watercolour paint palette too. After a bit of research I am happy to have found what seems to be quite a varied palette with some rich colours, which is still less toxic to Baby Q and myself. Out went the obvious Cadmium hues and a few of the ‘older’ pigments (they’ve developed safer ones now). You can see a few changes I made in my swatch below. Scribbles look super professional, I know.

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My adjusted palette swatches.

It’s not perfectly safe, but at least I’ve chucked out some of the scarier ones. No Vermilion-induced birth defects for us (it contains mercury)! I’d love to hear from you if you know any good resources for checking what are ‘safe’, or relatively safe pigments.

Here’s a recent painting I did for this year’s Christmas cards (the robin one was a very limited run… it’s sold out!)-

laura carter illustration robin

My biggest bug-bear is that I miss a bright red. The other hues in my core palette are very lovely, as is Indian Red (or Light Red, as named by some brands), which is the red I’m currently using. You can see the swatch tucked under where I’ve crossed out ‘Cadmium Red’, which I’ve stopped using. Light Red just misses that… pizazz that Cadmium has, and tends to muddy other colours when mixed. Light/Indian Red also varies from brand to brand. So again if anyone knows of any brighter, relatively safe reds, please let me know!

New work

Art, illustration, Uncategorized

In the last couple of months I’ve found that if I can work, I MUST work, for my sanity!

A series of one of my favourite subjects, doors and windows, has been the result of some snatched sketches and painting. The reference photos were taken by me over a couple of years with the theme in mind, so I have a couple of good ‘uns. I’m just finishing up the last one this week, and am pretty pleased with the paintings and also noticed an improvement in my technique. I was certainly quicker, after painting all those bricks and sandstones! Once it’s wrapped up I’ll clean them up and have a limited amount of 2019 calendars made, so do let me know if you’d like one reserved.

Here’s a quick glimpse of a couple (you can see more on my Instagram @illustratorlaura )-

 

Small Steps

Creative life, Uncategorized

It’s been very quiet around here, but I’ve been busy. We welcomed our little baby boy, Baby Q, in July!

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A common scene at my desk

Over a few months of adjustment I’ve managed to sneak in some illustration work time, and you can see what I’ve been up to over on my Instagram @illustratorlaura.

It’s been tough, having to work around the schedule of a completely new human, who has no clue what a schedule even is. I’m constantly tired, and you can throw any expectation of plans right out the window. Any work is nibbled at in tiny ten minute bites, mostly with an ear out whilst I hold my breath and hope the wee man doesn’t wake up. Luckily there are a couple of hours of babysitting time a week, which is heaven. And yeah: mini human. Super cute.

Having so little ‘me’ time has made me realise that illustrating is such a necessary part of my life, and it’s renewed my drive to fit it in, no matter how drained I feel. I’ve been working on a new series, which you can get a peak at over on Instagram (and I’ll share here shortly).

I’m also a bit nervous about this but I’m doing it anyway: another market! It’s been a couple of years since I was doing them regularly, and it’s a bit of pressure to prepare for it at such a busy time. Markets are always fun though, great to get yourself and your work out there, and I do love a challenge.

If you’re in the Eindhoven area on the weekend 24/25th November (I’ll only be there Sunday 25th) get yourself down to Etsy Made in Eindhoven pop-up market and show some love for local makers and sellers!

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Home linocut: Part 1

Art, illustration

This is my first linocut in 10 years. The last one I made was at university, in a lovely print studio with a beautiful big press. I recently got into stamp carving, and thought I’d try to up my game a bit with some lino and a small handmade press I made myself (really a glorified flower press). Using a strawberry plant on my balcony as inspiration, I cut a small block to test the best setup.

I vaguely remembered lino cutting being painful, and needing to keep plasters close at hand. So I built myself a bench block, which helped a lot and actually (for the record) I DIDN’T CUT MYSELF ONCE. What.

Then I had so many variations on materials that I wanted to experiment with. I ended up dabbling around with two basic black inks: Akua Intaglio and Daler Rowney Water-Soluble block printing colour. I found barely any visible difference between the resulting prints, but preferred the more velvety texture of the Akua ink whilst working with it. Both are water-soluble and make for a quick and tidy clean-up, with no harsh chemicals that oil-based inks need.

I did the whole session on a big glass plate, occasionally putting the press on the floor to kneel on it so I could tighten the wing nuts, which worked a treat. Definitely an improvement on the low-pressure ”baren” technique. You can see from the photos that I still had issues with the paper creasing around the corners of the block, which I attribute to uneven application of pressure (I pressed too hard at the corners). I think this was worse on the Fabriano paper. I’d definitely go straight to the 100% cotton rag again; the 50% cotton Fabriano paper just gave more problems overall. It just didn’t seem to pick up the ink as well, though I did like the starker contrast between the white paper and black ink. The price difference between the two papers is worth it.

I then wanted to add colour, and kept it simple with green watercolour and red Prismacolor pencil (the red watercolour wasn’t as vibrant as I wanted). Both worked well with the ink and paper.

 

I’m pretty happy with the results. Of course there’s a long way to go until I’ve nailed a reliable setup and printing process, but I’m already happy enough to have given a couple of these away as gifts. It’s so satisfying to be able to pull multiple originals on my dining table, and I’ll definitely try it again. Small ‘snapshots’ of my balcony garden are something I’ve been wanting to capture for a long time, so I think I’ll be making a series. I’ll update with my progress next time!