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The story behind… my Thatcher Rock illustration

I thought I would make use of the blog function on my website to share with you the making of some of my illustrations. What better place to start than the beginning, with my first nature print – Thatcher Rock.

Why I chose Thatcher Rock

This view is one that reminds me of when my husband and I first started dating, as it was our ‘go to’ spot for a picnic or takeaway. We’d always park on Ilsham Marine Drive and sit on the higher green. This area is smaller than the main green, but has a great vantage point over Thatcher Rock. The Monterey pines frame the view and give the area a lovely secluded feel – we always preferred it over the more manicured main green!

Back in 2017, when I decided to start capturing some of my favourite local views, I popped up to the area to sketch a rough layout and check out what plants grew there.

Growing up on the farm, I had learnt the names of some wildflowers and grasses, but my knowledge was patchy! Each recce was a fact finding mission – taking photos and sketches of fauna and researching any unknown species. My little haul above shows the range of plants I discovered. I mistakenly thought the seed head was Cow Parsley, but now know the distinctive black seeds are Alexanders. 

The process

Printmaking has always inspired me, and for my first illustration I wanted to use a limited palette of just 3 or 4 colours. Back then, I was still using a mouse to ‘draw’. However, I found this quite tricky, as I’m actually left handed but hold the mouse in my right hand.

I drew upon my graphic design skills to create the illustration in a programme called ‘Adobe Illustrator‘. Working digitally meant that I could adjust the colour scheme and composition until I was happy with it. This was such an advantage over traditional painting for someone as indecisive as me! Here’s a little vid showing how I build up the layers:

The final illustration was part of a set of three, together with my first view of Cockington and Walls Hill. I chose these views, as they were two of my favourite spots for taking the dog for a walk. The other two have been discontinued, but my Thatcher Rock piece continues to be a popular print. Thank you to all those who have chosen to have this one in their homes!

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The story behind… my Italian Gardens illustration

framed print of meadow flower illustration, Torquay

This summer, flower beds across the Bay have been planted with the most gorgeous meadow flowers! I absolutely LOVE it! So much prettier than the traditional formal planting. Here’s the Italian Gardens in Torquay…

I took the girl down with me to Torquay seafront and we sketched the view from the Italian Gardens, looking towards Rock Walk and the Riviera Wheel. It was so lovely to hear the positive comments from passers by, and it’s definitely proved to be a popular backdrop for a selfie! Find more photos from our day out on my Facebook page >

Here’s the girl sketching her interpretation, along with the page from her sketchbook below. I love how she has captured all the different shapes and sizes of the flowers 🙂

There were so many wonderful flowers, it was hard to know what to leave out! Here’s my initial messy sketch…

Next step was to import the sketch into my design software and make an initial colour study. I use a programme called Adobe Illustrator, which uses shapes and layers to build up the image. I normally like to use a limited palette of 4 or 5 colours, but this one demanded a pop of colour! See a short video of how I build up my work using layers here >

Sometimes it takes a while to build up the final piece, but this one of the Italian Gardens took only 2 days! Once I get an idea in my head I need to just run with it and keep working until it’s done! As the foreground was so busy, I kept the view behind fairly simple, using blues and greens to make it recede into the background.

And here’s the final thing! I loved creating it, I hope you like it too 🙂 It’s available now from my shop, both as framed and unframed print, in sizes A5 – A2. Shop now >

framed print of meadow flower illustration, Torquay