It is not often that a book is created so beautifully and by a whole family at that. Created by the Bax family and written by mum Stacy Bax, Busy Buzzy Bee is a story that has been created from five year old Elodie’s watercolour paintings. The whole process is really creative and inventive. The mix of the innocence of Elodie’s five year old imagination painting flowers in beautiful colours combined with the parents bees makes it really magical.
The story has some great repetition and tells children just how important bees are and how busy they are making sure that all of their jobs are done. It inspires children to look after the bees and help them as much as possible without getting too scientific and confusing.
The text is great but it is formatted in a confusing way, it could definitely be clearer but it doesn’t take much away from the story all and since it is surrounded by a literal hive of bee activity I can see how it would be difficult to format the text around it.
The back of the bus has a bonus poem and a lovely illustration dedicated to the heroes that are our amazing NHS and all they have accomplished throughout the global pandemic. It is really heartwarming.
I am a big fan of bee books and encouraging children to look after our fluffy little friends as you will know if you have seen my book Blake the Bee Who Believed or the book I illustrated for Simon Henderson, The Soggy Little Bee. It is amazing that all of these bee books can be teaching a similar message and still be amazingly different. Bees really are magical and Busy Buzzy Bee really shows that magic.
Harrison really enjoyed looking at all of the little details in the illustrations, he spent a long time looking at all of the individual bees and deciding on his favourite ones. He really engaged with the illustrations as much as the story. The colours and the beautiful illustrations really do catch your eye.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t get too caught up in Inktober this year, I could manage my obsession with completing tasks and just have fun with it. That of course didn’t last long and before October even began I had drawn out all of the prompts ready to colour. I chose one of my characters Susie Bunny from the Fernmoor Friends who I am working on at the moment to be the star of Inktober.
As I am prone to do, in my haste I made a huge mistake … I inked my illustrations with a non-waterproof pen! I wanted an orange outline and stupidly forgot to check if it was waterproof before I began. SO I could not use watercolours to colour my illustrations as I had planned to do and had to experiment because my brain would not let me give in and just give up once I had got that far. You can see the offending orange ink in my little cover image.
I found that Ecoline Liquid Watercolour Inks did the least amount of damage to my line work. I haven’t used them very much and they are a lot harder to control than regular watercolours because they are so bright. I toned them down with a little pencil crayon on top of the dried image. The brightness of the inks really washed out my original outlines though and they looked messy so I ended up doing bold outlines in black which I wasn’t totally happy with to begin with but actually love now that I see all of the images as a collection. This years Inktober was a massive lesson in perseverance and hopefully in testing my pens before I use them too!
Since Inktober is in the spooky season and I had chosen to follow Katnipps prompts which were halloween themed, I gathered a few bits and pieces from around my home to do some fun flat lay photographs of my sketchbook. Including my lovely little desktop skeleton Flesh Boi who makes an appearance in some of the photos. I really hope that you like them, here are all 31 images! Sadly not in order because that is far too technically advanced for me.
I am really proud of how the images came out, I have a few favourites (who wouldn’t love a bunny dressed as a pickle?) and some that I think I could of done better but on the whole I am really proud of sticking with it, remembering to post everyday and trying new mediums too. Despite the frustrations I really did have fun with it.
I am now in full swing with Gnomvember and hoping that you like my little Gnome Noah as much as you did Susie Bunny showing up in your instagram feed each morning.
Thank you so much for reading, if you completed Inktober this year too then let me know, I would love to see your completed gallery or flip through.
Risograph printing is very new to me, I had not even heard of it until very recently when I purchased a print from an amazing artist Lucisaurus on Etsy. I loved the print that I purchased and the texture of it, I wanted to learn more and I was surprised at how complex the process is.
Risograph is a soy based ink that is printed onto uncoated paper using a machine that looks a lot like a standard office photocopier although the prints that it creates are a lot more special than an ordinary photocopier. They are more like duplicates of a screen print than actual true photocopies, the machine makes each one slightly differently depending on the amount of ink on the rollers. Now, I am no expert and there are possibly many better places to learn about risk prints but I wanted to share my first experience at designing a risograph print with you.
You have to create your design with each colour separated, I chose blue and orange for my designs. However as well as the colours that you choose to use you have to choose how dark you would like each colour (opacity) to print too. The different opacities will determine how the colour prints and by printing one colour over another you can create more colours, a little like layering watercolour paints or pencil crayons. I struggled to imagine how one colour would look on top of another, It takes a little guesswork. Using the layers in both procreate and photoshop with the transparencies at the level you hope to print gives you the idea of how it might come out. So I had four different layers for each colour but each with a different opacity.
I love how Grumpy Bears face has been printed to look like shades of brown and how the seagulls features really stand out from the blue backgrounds in the final prints, they are better than I expected for a first try.
I designed four illustrations in these colours and was delighted by the final results which I really wasn’t sure would come out well, it is hard to envision what they will end up like when you are viewing them just on the computer screen. The prints all have a hand finished feel to them and the texture is really lovely. I cannot wait to create more with some different colours and I may create a series of them.
The four illustrations that I have designed so far are available in my Folksy shop now and once they are sold out I will not be printing these ones again but will hopefully have more designs in the future.
Find my shop here or click on the individual pictures to be taken to the exact item.
I am really looking forward to creating more prints, possibly something with pink in! If you get chance to see a risoprint in person you will be surprised at how rich the colours are and how beautiful the texture is.
I know a lot of artists are knee deep in Inktober right about now, I have been enjoying sharing illustrations of my own Susies Bunny on Instagram too but deep down I am really just waiting in anticipation for Gnomevember. Every day throughout the month of November each year, the gnomes come out to play and 2021 is no different.
No matter wether you decide to use paint, pencils, clay or paper mâché everyone can join in with Gnomevember, you don’t need to be very good, you aren’t being judged and there are no winners or losers. Gnomevember is purely for fun and there is absolutely zero pressure! Here are this years prompts that I have devised to help give you some ideas and get your creative juices flowing. If you don’t like them then their are potentially more prompt lists available on instagram by different artists.
This is my third year of participating in Gnomevember, the first year I painted in watercolours and mixed the prompts with huevember too. the second year I decided to create all of my gnomes digitally so that I could practice digital art.
In 2021 I want to take my Gnomevember designs in a different direction and have decided to create a character to go on adventures throughout the month of November. His name is Noah Sunshine and he is a very young gnome with a very adventurous streak in him. I have done a few practice sketches and decided to create my own little life size Noah Sunshine so that I can sketch him from all different angles more effectively although sadly the polymer clay is not posable once baked. Isn’t he adorable? I am so happy with him and cannot wait for his adventures to begin. Noah Sunshine will be painted in watercolours and may be available afterwards as a zine if people are interested.
If you would like to follow Noah’s adventures then keep an eye on my instagram throughout November and if you would like to join in that would be amazing, tag me in your insta posts so that I can see them!
Written by Tazkia Dokrat and illustrated by Kerry Green, Peaty Pencil Learns To Help is a lovely little book about a pencil who is great at academics and not so great at sports (I can instantly relate!)
Peaty Pencil has to learn that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that helping each other really helps everyone. It is a very cute book and the pencils have so much personality. I am a massive stationary addict (Hoarder?) and seeing these little pencils chatting and running is just charming. It is a really cute idea. It isn’t easy to give emotion and movement to inanimate objects and Kerry Green does it really well.
The font selection is a little strange as random words throughout the text are given extra emphasis with decorative fonts, it does add to the interest on the text only pages. It is only a short story but is one of a series of Pencil Case Pals and we would be really interested to see the rest too.
We were curious on pages where Peaty Pencil and friends were sat writing with little pencils, did those little pencils have personalities too? That would be super cute but could go on forever.
This book was sent to us for review by the publisher Stour Valley Publishing and our opinions are our own.
If you have ever sat and watched a baby play you can see that their minds are working constantly, figuring out the world around them. In Munchkin’s Adventures you get a glimpse into what Alice (Munchkin) is daydreaming about and her imagination is running wild while she is spending her day with her family doing very ordinary activities.
Written by Karen Farrell and illustrated by Grandma Robyn, this story is enchanting and so are the illustrations. The imaginary adventures are varied and fun, from a rocket ship to a mermaid lagoon just like on the cover. Harry thought that he could imagine his baby cousins going on all of these fantastic adventures to all of these magical places. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they could really tell us about them all?
The text is simple to follow and it is laid out really nicely, you can see what Alice is really doing and what she is imagining easily which allows the illustrations to shine. They are really delicate and soft watercolours that are perfect for the tone of the gentle story.
The cover initially seems very girly, we don’t buy based on gender stereotypes in our home, we just read what we like. Hopefully the pink doesn’t put anyone off though because the story really is great for anyone, boys and girls can daydream of being merpeople and astronauts alike. Harry really enjoyed it and thought that the baby was very sweet.
Munchkin’s Adventures is available now on Shookbop.
The publisher sent us this copy for review and the opinion are all our own.
Written and illustrated by Jenny Neal, Stick It Brit is a children’s book that helps to encourage children to learn in their own unique ways.
Stick It Brit was not at all what I was expecting from the title, both Harrison and I thought wrongly that the book would be about Brit giving up or telling someone to leave them alone, perhaps it is a regional dialect thing but saying ‘stick it’ is not the positive message that we soon found this book to be. It was made very clear very fast that the stick which was being referred to was actually sticky notes!
Stick It Brit is the story of a little girl who is struggling to learn spelling and vocabulary and uses sticky notes to help often with hilarious results (have you tried to pop a sticky note on a cat? Brit did!). It was great to see Brit not only recognise her own struggles but to find a way to work through them too. A story of perseverance even when it isn’t easy and that practice will make your tasks easier.
It is a great story that shows not everyone will learn in the same way and that you need to find the way to suit you best.
The illustrations are bright, bold and colourful. I really like the energetic backgrounds on every page, there is not a single page that lets down that energy which carries the enthusiasm throughout the book. It is educational without losing track of the story and would be a great motivator to a child who is struggling to find their own way of learning.
Harry really enjoyed the story too and thought that the idea was brilliant, he suggested that each book should come with a pack of sticky notes to get you started.
Stick It Brit also raises money for Twinkling Stars, Stillbirth Bereavement Services which just makes it even more special.
Published by Stour Valley Publishing and available now from Shookbop.
This book was sent to us for review and these opinions are our own.
I really love Scrawlrbox but I don’t have a subscription myself. I know that the boxes are well worth the money however a lot of the products they include would go to waste if I were to subscribe, markers for example I just wouldn’t use often enough. However I really enjoy watching artists unboxing videos on Youtube and then if my interest if piqued I have the option to purchase a box from their range of previous boxes which works out much more affordable for me despite the extra couple of pounds you pay for knowing what is in the box.
When I watched numerous content creators open the July box I was absolutely mesmerised by the contents. Alcohol inks and a yupo pad. I had never seen these items used in this way and I knew within a few mins that I had to give this medium a go. I purchased the box as soon as it was available in the online shop (around mid to late August). As always it arrived quickly and was really well packaged, just enough to protect the contents without going overboard and wasting loads.
The box included two coloured inks, one blender ink and a magical shimmer ink, a yupo pad, paintbrush, pipette, paper straw, scrawlrzine, sticker and art work by amazing artist Jess Kirkman. There was also a chewy bar but Mr Webb had eaten that before I could take the photograph! He says it was delicious.
The Yupo pad is tree-free synthetic paper and feels plastic but is 100% recyclable and it is essential for working with alcohol inks. The inks had to be pierced at the top and as expected I made a mess within seconds of sitting down to give this medium a try. You should probably wear gloves but at this point most people are used to me being covered in some art material or another and a blue and pink hand is nothing unusual. It took a day or two to come off but I could of used nail polish remover if I had needed to.
I have never used anything similar to these alcohol inks, they act in a way that is so unpredictable and it is hard to have any control over it. That made it incredibly fun! I found the whole process mesmerising because every drop changed the entire piece. They included really good colours because they blend really beautifully into purple hues without muddying. The shimmer is a nice touch that is incredibly hard to photograph. The smell was really strong but since Lilly Webbling is constantly practicing her nail art I think I have developed a slight immunity to the fumes. Once they are dry they don’t really smell but I wouldn’t recommend sniffing it, make sure you have a ventilated room when you are pouring them.
The blender is colour free and it pushes the other colours as far as they can go which adds a lot more pattern and depth. I was having a great time simply just watching them combine and move. They felt like they had a mind of their own. I tried the pipette and the straw but honestly wasn’t finding that I had any more control than just pouring straight from the bottle really.
The freedom of just letting the inks do their own thing was really fun, I could not control them. They were good at not leaving the edge of the paper unless I blew too hard with the straw or tipped the paper. The inks do pool at the edges so I tried not to put too much ink close to the edges.
I wanted to try a picture that had no white and to add more shimmer, the image above is what I ended up with. The shimmer is beautiful but the photographs do not do it justice at all. The more ink you add the more you get the thick lines that you can see on the image. They take a long time to dry and can be sticky. I have found that the images I have left on top of one another (after 24 hours drying time) are sticking to each other a little. The thinner ink dries really quickly though and dry ink can be reactivated with blender or fresh inks so you can work on it over more than one day.
I decided to try a sea scape with mainly blue and just a tiny bit of pink to add the darker blue hues. I then used the paintbrush dipped into the tiniest bit of blender to add some little bubbles to the image. I think I should have been braver and added more but I was happy with the effect. It is great that you can use the blender to take away some of the ink although you would need a lot to get the paper whiter. I think that the blender will run out a long time before the colours. However, these inks are only small and I thought that I would probably get through the bottles in one session but I have done quite a few pieces and barely used a quarter of each bottle, it goes a long way.
Being an illustrator I couldn’t help to try and create illustrations from the inks. It wasn’t fully successful but hopefully you can recognise a seahorse amongst them. It was recommended in the Scrawlrzine to add permanent marker once the image is dry. I tried it on a few and really liked the outcome. It is almost like trying to spot shapes in clouds. I think that with practice you could possibly create abstract patterns with the finished designs in mind. I used sharpie and silver Pitt pen to create interest to the images below.
I really love to mix mediums and thought that the texture and depth in the illustrations would make fantastic backgrounds. I really love how they came out. I used the seascape to create the two illustrations below.
I really love these colours but wanted to try more. Since it was late there was nowhere open to go any buy more. It occurred to me that since I have hoarded alcohol markers over the years (see, hoarded but not really used!) that I might be able to use them to create some interesting images using the blender and the shimmer.
I tried Promarkers and honestly it just made a mess, it was awful. The ink was sticky and only spread a tiny bit after staining the paper. It actually looks better in the photo than it does in real life. It was muddy and sticky and just not fun at all. But it wasn’t a complete waste because I managed to use the ruined art piece in some little collage, cut paper art.
Honestly they are my favourite images that I managed to create with the alcohol ink, it combines the fun of the magical alcohol ink textures with my love of collage and cut paper pictures. I really love how they add extra interest to the illustration. I just added some simple watercolours and coloured pencils.
I would recommend anyone who doesn’t mind getting a bit messy to give these a go. The Scrawlrbox is a bargain while it is available because they include everything to get started. it is magical and mesmerising just to watch even if you don’t like the final image you will enjoy the process which is really just as important if not more so when you are creating art.
I will definitely be using more of this technique in my art, it is too much fun not to, so please do follow my social medias if you would like to see more.
First Song is the story of a little girl who has her life turned upside down by a her new baby brother who just will not stop crying. Mum, Pops, Nana and Grandpops all try hard to soothe the baby but are unsuccessful, can his big sister find the way to help him sleep?
Dedicated to my own daughter who has always been the best big sister anyone could wish for even if she does argue like crazy with her little brother, no one else is allowed to treat him badly, she is his protector. My Webblings are my inspiration and that has never been more obvious than in this new book.
I have written the story and illustrated it digitally, I have been growing and improving, trying to get as much texture and life into digital art as I do with watercolours. It is a process that I have really enjoyed and I hope that it shows with First Song. I know that I still have a lot to learn about story writing and illustration but I am really proud to share this story with the world.
First Song was released yesterday and has had a great reception so far, I can’t thank my family and friends enough for the encouragement and support that they have given me throughout the whole process.