Made By Mrs M

Mary Quant

Kate Marsden

Back at the beginning of May the small-ish boy and I took a trip into town to visit the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A (although I think he was rather more excited by the subsequent visit to Whole Foods but each to their own…). The exhibition documents the designer’s career and while it was rather busy, it was colourful and insping. If I hadn’t been with a slightly bored 9 year old boy I would have stayed a lot longer!

If you’re going to visit the Dior exhibition I would definitely get tickets for this one too (or go and see it if you haven’t managed to snag tickets - it will go a little way towards making up for your dissapointment!).

Here are just a few photos I took on the day…

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Mary Quant is at the V&A until 16 February 2020.


Charity Print in aid of RHS Campaign for School Gardening

Kate Marsden

As many of you will know, my Dad passed away back in May. He was a very keen gardener who’d even planned to open his garden for the National Garden Scheme. His garden was due to open only three days after he died, but he’d insisted we must go ahead and so we did - I’ve shared some images of his garden from that weekend below.

When considering charities to raise money for in his name, we were keen to support a cause which would bring Dad’s passion for gardening to the next generation (after all some of my son’s happiest memories of his Grandad were during the times he spent with him in the garden) so we chose the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening.

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The campaign supports schools and groups – inspiring young people through the power of plants, offering free resources, projects and guidance to get them growing. The campaign’s work has shown that the direct benefits of gardening for young people are wide ranging:

• Improves physical and mental wellbeing
• Builds life skills such as confidence, resilience, teamwork and communication
• Enhances literacy, numeracy and oracy skills
• Enriches the entire curriculum from science, maths and geography – to art, design and languages
• Teaches about the environment and the importance of biodiversity and sustainability
• Helps young people engage with their surroundings better and develop a sense of responsibility.

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I’ve produced the print shown here and all profits will go directly to the campaign in my Dad’s name. The prints are signed, measure approximately 135mm x 210mm and are digitally printed onto 220 g/m cartridge paper. This digital print represents urban gardens, enriching and improving the environment and bringing gardening to those who otherwise may not have the opportunity to enjoy it as a pastime.

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Now for some photos of his beautiful garden…

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Colourful Fun in Margate!

Kate Marsden

Several weeks ago we headed off to Margate for a couple of days to see what everyone’s been talking about! We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we were rather excited about our accommodation. We stayed at Big Bit (you can find it on Air B&B here - can’t recommend the place enough) and it was VERY colourful…

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As well as spending lots of time photographing our apartment (!!) we also spent a few hours at Dreamland where I could happily have ridden on the Scenic Railway all day. Next time we’re going to go roller skating…

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Then there was the beach and the wonderful Turner Contemporary Gallery (the current exhibition of seaside photography is brilliant). Plus the mods were in town on the Saturday and the bikers on the Sunday so lots of differet things to see which really amused the small-ish boy.

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We enjoyed exploring all the vintage shops in the Old Town (giant neon signage anyone?!) and did come away with a couple of (smaller) bits and bobs. Also had a fantastic dinner at Buoy and Oyster with views out to sea.

A bit of a longer drive than to our usual seaside spots but we’ll definitely be back!

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Carshalton Artists Open Studios 2019

Kate Marsden

A little late promoting this year’s event (my Dad passed away last month hence the radio silence on here), but last weekend saw the start of the third Carshalton Artists Open Studios. We’re back this coming Saturday and Sunday 29/30 June so here’s the plug at last!

This year we have an amazing 59 artists in 23 locations and there really is something for everyone. There’s also a fun pig trail (which proved really popular this week - my son is determined to find all the pigs - see his stamp card below) - those who manage to find all of them will be entered into a draw to win £100 to spend with any of the exhibiting artists. You can also buy a raffle ticket and win the pigs themselves (and you have a very good chance of winning mine as I haven’d sold many yet!).

Here are some photos from the first weekend. Do come along and see me at 133a Stanley Park Road, SM5 3JJ (stop 17 on the trail) I’m sharing Claire Chandler’s space and you can also find work from Marie Ratnam and Phil Evans. Open from 11-5 both days - see you there.

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My new book is  now available to order here .
Photo (c) Claire Chandler

Photo (c) Claire Chandler

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Studio Tour

Kate Marsden

As this year’s open studios are just around the corner (read more about CAOS in my earlier post here) and my current creative block only seems to be worsening, I spent some time last week clearing out my studio space. As with previous years, I won’t be opening up this little room to the public - partly due to it’s very small size but mostly due to it’s location, upstairs in my house. However, I will be taking lots of work and other bits and bobs which don’t usually make it out to fairs and markets, to stop 17 on the trail, 133a Stanley Park Road.

In the meantime though here’s a look at my newly tidied studio - please note this is my version of tidy - if mess makes your skin creep, look away now!!

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Come and visit Carshalton Artists Open Studios on 22/23 and 29/30 June - more details here.

Wes Anderson Inspired Wallpaper

Kate Marsden

Now you’ll probably already know that I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson. My holidays now seem to consist of searching for suitable colour combinations and anything symmetrical (so not annoying for my companions at all)…

When the folks at Murals Wallpaper contacted me with images of their new Wes Anderson inspired range I set about mentally redecorating my whole house again. My favourite in the range is this pink stunner called Agatha (of course!).

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Image (c) Murals Wallpaper

Image (c) Murals Wallpaper

So I got my hands on a sample and had fun playing around with it! I’m completely in love with the colour and It would look amazing with all my yellow stuff as well.

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The quality of the paper is great - so good in fact that I see myself keeping it to use as a photo backdrop for as long as it lasts (probably best not to stick prints to wallpaper with washi tape though in reality…). The only downside for me here though is the fact that the rooms I have left to decorate have wooden dado rails, and I don’t think this panelled look would work.

Image (c) Murals Wallpaper

Image (c) Murals Wallpaper

Image (c) Murals Wallpaper

Image (c) Murals Wallpaper

This thought took me back to the rest of the range, and I’m rather taken with this Suzy design above. I think it would look fantastic in my hallway.

Anyway I’m off to pull more poses in front of my little bit of pink paper…! You can find the whole range here. This is not a sponsored post, however they did send me a nice large sample to share with you.

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Carshalton Artists' Open Studios Returns!

Kate Marsden

It’s been a bit of a crazy few months and somehow the third annual CAOS event is only a few weeks’ away. I’m currently woefully underprepared (but hoping to pull it out of the bag at the 11th hour!), however here’s a little taster of what you can expect to see this year, and it’s definitiely not just studios (although I’m always happy to “just” nose around studios…). We also have galleries, historic buildings, free workshops, demonstrations AND a pig trail (more on this later, but you can see my pig here).

CAOS now includes 60 selected artists across 25 locations and two weekends (23/24 and 29/30 June) and we’ll be collaborating with Sutton Museums and Heritage and local schools to celebrate the work of local arts and crafts artist Frank Dickinson, who built Little Holland House in Carshalton Beeches. FInd out more about the event on our website and please follow us on Instagram and Twitter. I’ll be posting more about it nearer the time!

Claire Chandler - Winter Skies

Claire Chandler - Winter Skies

Sean Bright - Kate Bush Decorations

Sean Bright - Kate Bush Decorations

Caroline Warwick at CAOS 2017

Caroline Warwick at CAOS 2017

John Stillman - Evening at the Lavender Fields

John Stillman - Evening at the Lavender Fields

Jill Iliffe - Morpho oil detail

Jill Iliffe - Morpho oil detail

Maggie Penton - Blue Skies

Maggie Penton - Blue Skies

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Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

Architecture, Photography, TravelKate Marsden

I’m writing this while trying to keep going through my jetlag! At the time of writing, we landed back home from our 10 day break in the States about 7 hours ago, and boy am I feeling it… Looking back to Tuesday though, and one of the highlights of our trip was a boat tour of Chicago which we booked through the Chicago Architecture Center. We had a gorgeous day for it (and considering that we had snow on the ground on Monday morning, we were VERY lucky - and should probably have been wearing suncream…) and learnt a lot about the city and it’s amazing buildings. Here are just a few of the photos I took…

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The Chicago Architecture Center itself was also well worth a visit, with architects’ models of many of the world’s tallest buildings, and a model of Chicago (plus some lego for the small-ish boy). Find out more about it here.

This is not a sponsored post.

Swinging London

Kate Marsden

More mid-century stuff this week in the form of the latest exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum. I visited just over a week ago to attend a talk with Mark and Keth of Mini Moderns about mid-century style and their book Mid-Century Modern Living (which you can read more about in my earlier post here) and the event included free entry to the exhibition.

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Swinging London shares the ‘Pop’ revolution between the late 1940s and mid-1960s featuring the designs of Mary Quant, Terence Conran and many more. I don’t think I was alone in wishing it were a shoppable exibition!

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The Fashion & Textile Museum isn’t a huge space but as always they’ve crammed in some real treats and I’d definitely recomment a visit.

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Swinging London is at the Fashion & Textile Museum until 2 June 2019 - find out more here.

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Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Kate Marsden

I’d like to make it clear that I am not in any way gloating about the fact that I had a lovely Mother’s Day visit to an exhibition which has been extended, yet is still completely sold out…. but I took photos to share with you all, so I will! The Christian Dior show at the V&A was nothing short of amazing - well worth the queue (which was somewhat epic due to the fact that people didn’t want to leave the gallery, so there was a one in one out policy) and the selling out bit is completely understandable.

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The exhibition charts the full history of the fashion house from the New Look of 1947 to the present day (and my desire to purchase a Dior dress from the current collection and wear nothing but that, as I’d obviously be unable to afford ANY more clothes EVER, was pretty strong!). In the tradition of the V&A and their blockbuster exhibitions, each new room was a triumph and there were plenty of gasps from the crowd as we moved through - and when I say crowd, it was busy but not awful - I got to see everything and there was no need to sharpen my elbows.

I left remembering why I wanted to study fashion all those years ago, and I would of course be sending all my students off to it, had it not sold out. So if you’re not going to get a chance, you can live vicariously through my photos, and if you have tickets, here’s a snippet of the delights you can look forward to!

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Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is on at the V&A until 1 September 2019, but as I mentioned it’s sold out… you can find out more about it here.

Spare Bedroom Makeover

Kate Marsden

We’ve lived in our house for 8 and a half years, but (as I’m sure is the case with most people) the spare room has been somewhat neglected. It definitely gets lots of use as most of our friends and family live a fair way away from us, but despite this it’s still been a general dumping ground with plenty of battered (magnolia) paint. I’d use the excuse that it’s a loft conversion and therefore I don’t have a loft to store my junk in, but I think we just need less stuff!

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About a month ago we finally got around to clearing out A LOT of junk and decorating. I didn’t want to buy too many new things but did want to give the room a new feel using items we already had. The mood board above shows the general look we were going for.

Paint - top and bottom left - Setting Plaster by Farrow & Ball
Chest of drawers (similar to one we already have) - Branches of Bristol
Pink French Antique Nursing Chair (similar to one we already have) - frenchantiquechair.com
Crochet blanket (my own - bought at a car boot sale)
Welsh blanket fabric - Perris & Corr
Existing painted chest of drawers (which used to live in my studio so you might recognise them!)
Grey curtains - 247 Curtains
Sigrunn Fabric - Kangan Arora for IKEA

Sadly I don’t really have any before photos, but let’s just say it was bland… I’m still after a rug and I’m thinking of getting some more of that wonderful Kangan Arora fabric, but here it is (pretty much) finished, still very much decluttered, and yes I even got around to making cushions!

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Tray also Kangan Arora for IKEA

Tray also Kangan Arora for IKEA

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Mid-Century Modern Living

Kate Marsden

I’ve long been a fan of Mini Moderns - their distinctive mid-century style has always been right up my street. When I popped by their stand at Top Drawer last year I wanted EVERYTHING. At the moment though many of you will be familiar with my very yellow feature wall (if you follow me on Instagram anyway!) papered with their Peggy wallpaper (the leftovers of which I’ve subsenquently used for all sorts of projects).

A few months ago Mark and Keith contacted me to ask if they could use one of my photos in their upcoming book - I obviously jumped at the chance to be involved, but at the same time I was really rather excited about the book itself as it would inevitably be filled with all my favourite things! My copy turned up last week and I can confirm that it really is a thing of beauty…

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The book contains page after page of beautiful images to drool over, but it’s also a really practical guide should you be after the mid-century look in your home but not know where to start. The only real downside being that I’m now mentally redecorating my whole house again… Anyway, here’s my living room on page 212 (top left)…

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While I head off to plan my next wallpaper purchase (and read the book from cover to cover), I’ll leave you with a few more photos. If you’re in London, Mark and Keith will be at the Fashion & Textile Museum next week talking about creating the mid-century look in your home and signing copies of the book - and this happily coincides with the museum’s Swinging London exhibition which I’m looking forward to seeing.

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This is NOT a sponsorerd post - I received a free contributor’s copy of the book.

Mid-Century Modern Living by Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire is published by Kyle Books on 28 March 2019 - you can pre-order a copy here.

Letterpress Printing with Inky & The Beast

Kate Marsden

Many many moons ago Jen Wright (of Inky & The Beast) and I decided to work on a run of collaborative letterpress prints featuring my illustrations of the National Theatre in London. Life got in the way however and this never got past the initial planning stage. Several years (and in Jen’s case twins) later and she’s closing Inky & The Beast to focus on her new creative coaching business Silly Heart. So when Jen sent out her “I’m closing, last chance to book workshops” email I replied instantly and crossed my fingers that I’d be able to make one of the remaining dates.

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Fortunately I was able to, and just over a week ago I headed down to Jen’s studio in Epsom with my friend Tamsin Lucy who I met via Carshalton Artists. Our 3.5 hour workshop flew by in a rush of tea and possibly over ambitious plans on my part! We had a fantastic time though and were both really happy with the results of our efforts.

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I’d opted to have plates produced in advance of the workshop by Lyme Bay Press as I wanted to use my illustration of Number One Croydon - I was a little nervous about this as I really had no idea what I was doing when ordering them, but the combination of the expertise of Lisa at Lyme Bay Press and Jen meant that I had working plates!

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I produced quite a few prints - some plain, some with my polka dots, and some bookmarks (which might actually be my favourite thing!) and certainly got value for money when it came to raiding Jen’s paper stash! Tamsin made some beautiful cards which you can see over on her Instagram.

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So sadly you won’t be able to book a workshop with Jen now as her remaining slots are fully booked - do head over and support her new venture though (and join her first event on 27 April).

I’ve put some little packs of my Croydon letterpress prints together and these are now available in my shop.

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Franz West

Kate Marsden

It’s always good to find someone new to inspire… I was familiar with Franz West’s work (in that I recognised his scuptures) before I heard about the current exhibition at Tate Modern but I would’nt have been able to tell you his name. Having gone to the gallery last week principally to visit te Pierre Bonnard exhibition (which I’m afraid to say left me completely cold - sure you’ll like it if that’s your cup of tea though) West’s exhibition was the second one on my to visit list but defintely the highlight of my day.

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Not keen on queuing to get into a gallery at 3pm on a Tuesday during term time (yes, there really was a queue), I walked around to the back entrance (no queue!) and was greeted by a wonderful array of colourful sculptures. Whether they represent dead worms or intestines I really don’t mind - I love the combination of the shapes and colours.

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The exhibition itself is in the lovely 3rd floor gallery in the new building and was much quieter than Bonnard, giving me the opportunity to really linger over the pieces (and yes I did take some photos - sorry - I hate people taking photos in galleries but it was quiet!). It’s a major retrospective featuring not just his scuptures (and replicas of his Passstücke (Adaptives) papier-mâché pieces which you’re encouraged to pick up and interact with (in private if you so choose!), but collage, furniture and more. Defintely one I’m planning to revisit before it closes as I think I’d see even more on a second viewing.

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Franz West is at Tate Modern until 2 June 2019.

Should you fancy it, Pierre Bonnard continues until 6 May 2019.

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National Centre For Craft & Design - February 2019

Craft, Events, Exhibition, Inspiration, TextilesKate Marsden

During the half term break, which already feels like a long time ago, I dragged my parents and the small boy on our annual pilgramage to Sleaford and the National Centre for Craft & Design. The place is wonderful - almost (but not quite) enough to make me wish I lived back in Lincolnshire. The current crop of exhibitions are patricularly good. Here are a few of my highlights:

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Lucy Grainge’s mural (from Lucy Grainge and Majeda Clarke: One Year In) and this is the not so small boy’s debut photo on my blog!

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Jilly Edwards: Glimpses and Memories - lots of weaving inspiration for my students’ next project (including a very good film of Jilly’s process).

And the main exhibition Ctrl/Shift: New Directions in Textile Art - my favourite piece being Caren Garfen’s Room For Improvement, which was particularly poignant for me as one of my friends was hospitalised with anorexia last year.

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There was also a fun weaving workshop for kids taking place (which of course we joined in with) - NCCD have such a fantastic array of workshops but I’ve never been up there when a grown up one is on - might make it one day!

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How to Make Patterns in Photoshop

Tutorials, Pattern DesignKate Marsden

I’m often asked about my design process. Both my illustrations and pattern designs start life as black and white pen and ink drawings - I generally only work in colour in my sketchbook. One of the reasons for this is to make my life easier when designing patterns! It also means I can tweak and recolour designs easily without having to recreate the original drawing.

I recently taught my students how to make simple repeat patterns using Photoshop and it’s been suggested that I share my method here. The tutorial below is based upon a combination of the versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements which I have access to in my studio and at college, but the terminology is the same regardless of the version you have - if you can’t find something I’ve discovered that a quick Google search will provide the answer!

In order to start this tutorial you will need to scan your original artwork (preferably this will be black and white). Aim to save every motif in your design as a separate .jpg file - this will give you a lot more freedom when it comes to placing your motifs and playing around with the arrangement.

My original drawing above and repeat pattern below.

My original drawing above and repeat pattern below.

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Making a Simple Pattern

1.     Open the chosen motif in Photoshop. Use the Background Eraser tool to delete the background. Save as a .psd file.

2.     Create a new blank document the size of the repeat (aim for at least 2000px wide – at 300dpi (or higher if you intend to enlarge the image) and in colour. Return to the motif file, select all and then go to edit/copy merged and paste this copy into the new file.

3.     To make the motif smaller select it then go to edit/transform/scale. Always start with the image at the largest size – if you make it larger than the original it may appear pixelated.

4.     To copy a motif, select it from the layers menu on the right, right click and select duplicate layer. Once this layer is selected you can move it around using the move tool.

5.     When satisfied with the arrangement the motifs can be coloured, and straight, brick or half drop repeats created in a new file by copying and pasting the pattern tile.

A screenshot of Photoshop Elements - it’s a good idea to have a play around to locate the tools you need - you’ll only be using a handful of those which are available.

A screenshot of Photoshop Elements - it’s a good idea to have a play around to locate the tools you need - you’ll only be using a handful of those which are available.

To Create a Seamless Repeat

1.     Starting as before, make a note of the size of the new file (i.e. 2000px square) then arrange your motifs in the centre of the box.

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2.     Go to the filter menu and select the offset filter. Set the vertical offset to half the image size (so if it’s 2000px this will be 1000px) and the horizontal offset to 0. Ensure that the wrap around option at the bottom is selected then click “OK”. This will split the image leaving a gap in the middle.

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3.     Fill in the middle section with more motifs or rearranging the existing ones.

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4.     Return to the offset filter and set the horizontal offset to half the image size and the vertical offset to 0 (again ensuring that the wrap around option is selected) – once again fill in the gaps.

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5.     Keep applying and reapplying the offset filters, if necessary, to check for any remaining gaps in the pattern. Once satisfied return both offset filters to 0. The pattern will now repeat seamlessly however the offset is set.

6.     Test the appearance of the repeat by creating a new file and copying and pasting the pattern tile in.

The final tile above and as a repeat below.

The final tile above and as a repeat below.

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If you have any tips or encounter any difficulties using this tutorial please contact me. Look out for a second post in which I will show you how to add and change colours in your pattern design.

Uppercase Magazine Cover Design Contest

Kate Marsden

Uppercase Magazine is one of my absolute favourites - it’s a thing of beauty, with no adverts, it smells good, and importantly its hugely inspiring and makes you feel good! I was featured in one of their books a few years ago (now out of print), but my first time in the magazine itself was back in the summer.

A few months ago they launched a cover design competition for their 10th anniversary and 40th issue - not something they’d done before. There were a lot of amazing entries and I didn’t win, but I was still pretty chuffed to hear that my entry was one of those selected for publication in the magazine. Here it is:

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As the magazine has to travel here from Canada it took me quite a while to get hold of a copy, but it arrived a week or so ago. If you’d like to get one yourself you can find stockists on the Uppercase website.

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The winning entry by  Laura Moyer .

The winning entry by Laura Moyer.

Sketch the Rainbow

Kate Marsden

Now you know how I like a good Instagram challenge… I do often avoid the ones which are really time consuming though as I struggle to complete them, but in January I tend to have more time (although my month has been unexpectedly and pleasantly busy this year!). So add a sketching/sketchbook challenge to the January mix and I’m there. What better to make me fill some more pages in a new book?

I discovered the #sketchtherainbow challenge organised by the rather awesome Sketch Appeal (check out their magazine it’s fab) and decided I needed to give it a go. I was a little concerned about sharing my work alongside rather more talented illustrators, but everyone seems to be lovely and supportive so it was great fun!

Here are my 14 days worth of posts (not necessarily in the right order), now to keep this up for the rest of the year!!

Week 2, day 1 - draw  this Claire Prouvost illustration  in your style and only in red and blue (and in my case giving myself a Sharpie fume headache in the process!!).

Week 2, day 1 - draw this Claire Prouvost illustration in your style and only in red and blue (and in my case giving myself a Sharpie fume headache in the process!!).

Week 1, day 1 - one colour drawing in red

Week 1, day 1 - one colour drawing in red

Week 1, day 2 - one colour drawing in orange

Week 1, day 2 - one colour drawing in orange

Week 2, day 6 - something full of colourful 60s vibes

Week 2, day 6 - something full of colourful 60s vibes

Week 1, day 7 - one colour drawing pink

Week 1, day 7 - one colour drawing pink

Week 1, day 4 - one colour drawing green

Week 1, day 4 - one colour drawing green

Week 2, day 4 - something inspired by Kusama

Week 2, day 4 - something inspired by Kusama

Week 1 , day 3 - one colour drawing yellow

Week 1 , day 3 - one colour drawing yellow

Week 1, day 5 - one colour drawing blue

Week 1, day 5 - one colour drawing blue

Week 2, day 2 - a scene from a film or TV show using only 2 colours - The Grand Budapest Hotel

Week 2, day 2 - a scene from a film or TV show using only 2 colours - The Grand Budapest Hotel

Week 2, day 3 - speed draw using all 7 colours

Week 2, day 3 - speed draw using all 7 colours

Week 1, day 6 - one colour drawing purple

Week 1, day 6 - one colour drawing purple

Week 2, day 5 - something inspired by Warhol

Week 2, day 5 - something inspired by Warhol

Week 2, day 7 - draw  ReeRee Rockette  with a new rainbow hair style

Week 2, day 7 - draw ReeRee Rockette with a new rainbow hair style