Friday, 29 May 2015

Oh Comely subscription box: Storm in a box

I was incredibly excited to come home yesterday and find that the first Oh Comely magazine subscription box had popped through the letterbox. I signed up for the subscription box because the magazine itself is so beautiful and inspiring therefore a box of goodies from them was an exciting prospect.

The subscription box is themed around the most recent issue which this time is all about the weather so each piece has a link to that in some way.

Firstly I thought the packaging was really lovely with a patterened design and Oh comely stickers to seal it all. Having something pretty falling through your letter box also adds to the excitement of getting nice mail!  

Inside the contents was wrapped up neatly with a peace of string and a parcel tag saying 'STORM BOX', the name of this issue's subscription box.  It all looked very hand made and personal which I though was a really lovely touch.  The whole look of it very much ties in with their magazine style where it feels like you're sitting around with a group of like minded friends having a chat with a cup of tea. That's one of the really lovely things about Oh Comely.  It feels really accessible and friendly and you really feel like you're joining in with everyone when you read it.  Reading Oh Comely feels like joining a lovely creative and inspiring community of people and their new subscription box completely encompases that and makes you feel even more a part of it all.

The first item inside was a list of the contents. 

'Storms are terrifying. Storms are electric.  In Oh Comely's first subscription box you will find a perfect storm of creativity and inspiration.'

Everything was carefully packaged inside and each had a number corresponding to the list of lovely descriptions.

'One: Wind
Windy day, sweep me away. Get swept up in the joy of a good doodle.  Owen Gent is the guest illustrator for Oh Comely 25.  Inspired by the tale of Odysseus and the four winds, together we created this little notebook.'

Owen Gent's illustrations are wonderful and after reading all about him in Oh Comely I had to go and have a look at his work. I find them incredibly peaceful to look at, like scenes out of a dream. I have my eye on a few of his prints which I may well treat myself to soon. This lovely little notebook will fit nicely into my bag for jotting down ideas and ramblings. To see more of Owen's work, head over to his website here.

'Two: Rain
A silk scarf recalling cloudy skies and the silvery rain that falls from it.  Wrap the scarf around your neck, or pop it in your top pocket for a flash of thundery blues.  Hand-dyed and hand-painted by textile artist Justyna Michalowska, you can read an interview with her on page 88'

When I read the mentioned interview with her in this issue I was very excited to then own a piece of her work.  To own a handmade piece in any form is very special and I feel very lucky that as a subscriber I get to own a piece of Justyna's work. The colours are incredibly beautiful and anyone that knows me well enough knows that I absolutely love listening to rain, especially if there's some thunder thrown in there too. So to have one of my favourite types of weather reproduced in a unique way to wear is beautiful. To see more of Justyna's work, head to her website here.

'Three: Shelter
There's rain and wind: take shelter from the storm.  Yours to keep is this brass necklace designed by jeweller Saadiqah Rahman. A simple, timeless shape, is it an archway or perhaps a wishbone? Get to know Saadiqah on page 24.'

I fell in love with this necklace as soon as I saw it.  From hearing about what was going to be in the subscription box, this was one of the pieces I was most excited to receive. I really like simple, bold jewellery and that's exactly what Saadiqah creates. The idea of it being a shelter from the storm reminds me of that feeling you get sitting in your house as rain pours down, yet you're cosy inside with a book, watching it all happen out your window. It's one of the best feelings and I feel this necklace encapsulates that. To see more of Saadiqah's work, head to her website here.

'Four: Home
Now you're home and dry, it's time to curl up with a good read.  Here's Oh Comely 25.  Themed on Weather, it's the place where our stormy adventures began.'

I really enjoyed this issue of Oh Comely and it made a week of bus journey's to work much more enjoyable. We really do love to talk about the weather here and in Scotland in particular we seem to experience a whole range of weather, sometimes just in one single day! It was lovely to hear about people's weather related stories and see people get creative around the theme.

'Five: Sleep
Of all the words for rain, drizzle is our favourite.  Not spitting, pouring, showering or thundering but drizzling.  We sourced a fine sampling from British clouds and bottled it.  Think of it as something to keep under your pillow.'

The final subscription gift was very sweet and fun. The tiny bottle is lovely and if you sit it on your window sill it twinkles away. 

A big thank you to Oh Comely for coming up with such a lovely idea of creating a subscription box for their avid readers.  I'm very much looking forward to the next one.  If you'd like to join in the fun you can subcribe to Oh Comely's subscription box here. Go on, you know you want to!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A little trip to St Andrews

Yesterday I had a little trip to St Andrews with the family. I haven't been here for quite a few years so it was nice to return on such a lovely day. We met up with my sister and her fiancĂ© and had a wander through the town. It was really busy and Keira our dog was very interested in everything that was going on. 

I've always loved the streets of St Andrews.  The buildings are very quaint and hold onto their original character.  It's very hard not to peer into the little windows as you pass through the lanes.  Maybe that's just because I'm nosey though. 

We continued to walk past these lovely houses (trying not to do any peering), until we reached the view out to the sea which you can see in the top photo. The air was warm and there wasn't much of a breeze so we sat down and looked out to the view for a while to let ourselves and Keira take a rest.

 We then passed the cathedral but since the last time we were there the prices have sky rocketed to wander around it. The cathedral is a ruin, an interesting one but still a ruin and if my maths is correct it would have cost £40 to essentially walk around outside. I'm sure the money probably goes to maintenance of the site but it did seem a little extravagant to wander around a graveyard and that's coming from me who does love a good walk around a graveyard.  With the dog in tow though, we wouldn't have been able to go in anyway. I did however take a sneak peek through a hole in the wall.

We then continued down towards the harbour where a few little boats sat and there were plenty of people gathered around an ice cream stand. It really was a busy little place and there were a lot of tourists, probably coming for a spot of golf.  The stands have began to be constructed for The Open Championship which will be played between the 12th and 19th of July.  I'm not a golf fan myself but there was quite a golfing buzz about the place, although in St Andrews that's always there whether The Open is being held there or not. 

We then headed back up towards the main streets and passed a rather grand entrance leading into St 
Leonards boarding school.  I like the little windows in the wall and the way the trees frame the way in.  Very Hogwarts.

We then meandered through the crowds, back to the car park. I met this little bee on the journey, quietly sitting in a flower, gathering up some pollen. There were a lot of lovely flowers lining the walk and it was a very refreshing wander with all that sea air. 

I'm off for the weekend but I'm now looking forward to doing a spot of drawing and resting my legs. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A week of reading

This week has been a very sleepy one but I've not been the only one.  It seems a lot of people have been feeling a bit lethargic this week so perhaps there's something going about.
Thankfully though I've had a series of books to nestle into which has been my main activity this week.
Ben Aaronovitch has written a series of books following the life of PC Peter Grant.  A young policeman in London who discovers that there is more to policing than meets the eye. After meeting a ghost face to face in the first book 'Rivers of London', he is taken on as an apprentice by Detective Police Inspector Thomas Nightingale, head of The Folly that deals with the supernatural and magic side of things that occur for the Metropolitan police to deal with. Nightingale also happens to be the last sanctioned wizard in England and Peter is the first apprentice in over seventy years to be taken on. If you like ghost stories and the paranormal, which I always have done, then these books would be right up your street. I'm now on the fourth book in the series 'Broken Homes'.  They are a perfect companion for the bus journey to and from work everyday.
This week has also brought with it the next Oh Comely magazine issue. Perfect for curling up with a cup of tea, Oh Comely is full of inspiring stories, beautiful illustrations and photography, tasty recipes and crafty ideas. This issues theme is weather and I'm looking forward to settling down to read it this coming week.
I also got a delivery of more Fabriano Venezia sketchbooks. I keep talking about these but they really are my favourite so I got a few more to stock up.
Finally I've been continuing to look back at previous work. I really do recommend it as it gives you new ideas and you can pick out what you were happy with and what to improve on.  It's also always nice to take a walk down drawing memory lane.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Copic Multiliner SP pens

Today I got a very exciting delivery that I've been waiting on from Cult Pens.  I really recommend them for buying pens as they have such a huge range of brands and also sell pencils and notebooks too. Their delivery time is really fast as well and they always include a little bag of Haribo and a sample product (this time a stylus pencil end). They are pretty invaluable to me as there aren't any decent art shops near me and there has never been one that sells a good range of pens. Thank you Cult Pens!

This order was for my favourite, the Copic Multiliner SP in size 0.03. I have used these pens for many, many years and as soon as I found them I fell in love.  I had always struggled to find a pen with a nib small enough for the sort of detail I like to draw in. Then I found these lovelies in a size 0.03mm. The nibs are incredibly slim, as you can see in the photo below, and the detail they give is brilliant. The 0.05 size is also lovely to use, as are the larger sizes but my favourite is certainly the 0.03 for what I do. The Multiliner pens are refillable and I got ten ink cartridges which will last me for a while. I also got five packs of spare nibs which have two nibs in each pack. The cartridges and nibs last for a good amount of time each, even if you draw a lot. 

Below you can see an example of the sort of detail you can get from the 0.03 Multiliner pen. I love the tiny marks and lines you can make with it. When I first started using it I was drawing a lot of building type drawings like this one below.  The old buildings I drew were covered in cracks, marks and grime and the detail the pen could give was perfect for this.  All my work now is drawn with these pens and I couldn't recommend them enough.  I have tried many different types of other pens but their nib sizes have just been too big and they haven't given the same quality. So if you're looking for a really nice pen, try these out and prepare to fall in love!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Cleaning up continues

In the past week or so since I last posted, I've still been working away on re-scanning all my drawings and cleaning them up to have better files of them for the web and future prints. My hand feels like it's permanently in a claw shape from using my Wacom tablet but I'm happy with the progress I'm making, even if there is still quite a lot to work through. I recently finished cleaning up this portrait of my dad and I'm a lot happier with the quality now compared to the one I had before. I've included the previous copy below to show the sort of changes I've been working on.  As you can see it's a completely different colour.  The colour I had previously was not at all like the original and the background wasn't white.  The file size and original scan was of a lower quality and it had completely lost the majority of its detail.

The final image I have now is pretty much identical to the original. The colours are the same, the background is clean and the detail has been kept, such as the pencil marks and the way the watercolour lies.  So the re-scanning and cleaning up might seem like a long and laborious task but hopefully it's quite clear that it's worth it.

I also cleaned up this little street below, and as I've been sifting through all my drawings, it's actually helped me think about future drawings. It's got me excited about future projects.  There's nothing quite like looking through your work again to make you want to get the pens out and do something new. It's been quite a learning curve and an eye opener.