As promised in last week’s post, here are some photos of just a few of the other houses we loved in Oak Park. While we were there we also popped out to Lake Street to look for something to eat and spotted a fantastic Art Deco cinema (see the image at the bottom of this post) and a wonderful book shop - The Book Table. We had a really nice lunch at Hecho En Oak Park (where the boy discovered a new love for guacamole!).
I’ve finally got around to sharing more of my photos from Chicago! We had a wonderful day exploring Oak Park and the first home and studio built by the great Frank Lloyd Wright. We had a tour of the house (and the small-ish boy did a wonderful job of trying to look interested - it’s not recommended for younger children, I believe the minimum age is 8) but I was in seventh heaven.
Here are a lot of my photos... You can find out more about the house and studio and book your own tour here. Pop back next week for a further post containing images of other amazing houses in Oak Park, many of which were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
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…
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.
Now I’ll admit to being a fan of the ‘gram and to taking far too many photos, but I’ve never actually chosen a holiday destination based upon how Instagrammable it is… but I know some people do.
We visited Lisbon a couple of weeks ago (after a fantastic trip to smaller but equally lovely Porto) and it turned out that there was something demanding a space in my feed every few paces (even in the driving rain!). So rather than filling my feed with holiday spam (there are a few images there of course) I thought I’d share more of them here. You’re spoilt for choice with all the beautiful tiles, little old fashioned shops, art galleries and of course the famous yellow trams. Enjoy!
I spent some time last week working on a couple of new illustration commissions. The first was for a set of three prints at A2 size - the first time I've produced prints at this scale.
Due to the way I work, this presented me with a bit of a challenge. I scan in my black ink line drawings and then colour the artwork digitally - however I only have an A4 scanner! So I had the opportunity to find and use another local small business for my scanning!
I'm over the moon with the finished prints which are shown above and I now just need to get them signed and sent off to the client. They're going to be hung as a set of 3 on her stairs and I can't wait to see a photo of them in situ.
I've also been working on a standard A4 house portrait. This one is still at the black and white stage while the client decides on her colour choices.
I've been offering a discount on my house portraits during open studios and have decided to extend this offer to everyone until next Sunday 15 July. Order any A4 or A3 illustration here and a 10% discount will be applied automatically.
If you'd like me to produce larger scale images or something completely different, do drop me a line to discuss. I can even put your house on fabric if you like!
I know you're keen to know what we got up to in Portland, and you no doubt want to know all about the top nightspots, so I'm afraid I'll disappoint! We were tucked up in our room pretty early each night as we were traveling with the little man, but here are some of the things we got up to in the first city I've visited since Sydney which I think I'd really like to move to...
I'd been wanting to visit Portland for a few years so it could quite easily have failed to live up to my expectations. On the first day I was a little out of sorts post flight to Seattle and then early morning train (I had been to bed between the two fortunately!) but it didn't stop me falling for Portland pretty much straight away. The atmosphere is fab and it's so green - the amount of trees in the place came as a surprise - probably even more than we have in London (for the size at least). My only disappointment was to find that the Museum of Contemporary Craft which I'd hoped to visit had closed down, but otherwise it was great.
First we need to talk about Voodoo Doughnut - every other person seemed to be wandering around town with an intriguing looking pink box! A bit like London's Vicky's Doughnuts (I assume as I haven't been!) it's built a cult following and there was always a queue (I believe it's open 24 hours though so presumably it's not that constant) but it was worth it. The chocolate glazed also removed the small boy's wobbly tooth which had been threatening to come out for weeks. The only side effect being that the tooth fairy seems to have a going rate of $5 when she only gives £2 here - shocking!
The Voodoo Doughnut boxes were piled high on the tables (next to other lovely more savory delights) at Pine Street Market where we went to eat both nights as it worked so well for the small boy. Part Boxpark, part Mercato Metropolitano it was nice and had a wide range of different food on offer. We went for burgers and ice cream on the first night and pizza on the second (followed by the legendary doughnuts!).
We were fortunate enough to be there during the Portland Rose Festival and spent a very nice evening entertaining the boy at the sizeable fair which ran along the banks of the river. There were loads of rides suitable for all ages - we spent a small fortune but he was happy!
I also went looking for shops and found some real treats. Firstly I stumbled upon Ecru - a really lovely little stationery/card shop - where I obviously did my Just A Card duty. They had a lovely range of letterpress and hand printed Portland cards and lots more besides.
Made Here PDX was on my must visit list and it was almost overwhelmingly good. Fortunately the fact that I had to be able to get the stuff home stopped me overindulging, but I did get a lovely print. Everything they sell here is made locally.
We also visited design shop Canoe which was very smart - they stock a range of items from across the world which is beautifully curated.
I can't not mention Powell's City of Books which is huge (apparently the world's largest independent bookstore) and rather wonderful (so huge in fact it has a map and loosing the small boy was likely rather than possible!) - they stock both new and used books on just about every topic you can imagine.
For the boy we found Finnegan's Toys & Gifts - not massive but a very nice toy shop. I spotted a box of Lisa Congdon badges on the counter so had to pick some of those up for myself!
We spent quite a bit of time just wandering about and admiring the place - in particular we loved the Pearl District, which is bordered by some lovely houses like these above. We also found a great fountain for the small boy to cool off and splash about in (for a whole hour!).
It was a bit of a whistle stop visit and I so hope I can visit again some time - leaving was hard! I also know that there were many things we didn't get to see (partly as we were aiming to appease the little man for a large part of the time).
So the important question.... is Portland weird? Well yes, just a little bit though and it all the right ways!
After the success of my Croydon zine last month, I decided to make another featuring the artwork from my A-Z project on Instagram! As I'm aiming to keep all of my zines short and sweet I've split the project into two, and so I give you A-M...
The zine features black and white images of my drawings - you can see them all on Instagram here - together with handwritten notes.
The locations in this first part are: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Coventry, Durham, Edinburgh, the Finsbury Estate (London), the Giant's Causeway, Harlow, Ironbridge, Johnstone, King's Lynn, Liverpool and Mancheser.
Once again this is a limited edition zine. You can get hold of your copy here.
Having only ever visited Oxford once before in my life, I've now been twice in 3 months! No sleeping behind bars this time though, as last Saturday Lisa (a.k.a. Martha Loves) and I headed down there to meet up with locals, Natasha (whose blog, Candy Pop, you may be familiar with) and Rosie of A Rosie Life.
We were definitely blessed with the weather - not too sunny so none of those nasty harsh shadows and the rain held off until we were on our way home - and we had a lovely time. It's so nice to walk around a place with people who know it well and Natasha and Rosie knew exactly where to find the colour (and the good chocolate brownies!).
I also think there's something really nice about going on a very small photowalk - no worries about keeping up and not getting lost/more opportunities to be spontaneous! I am however planning to join the In Colourful Company walk in London on 7 July and that's set to be huge!
In the meantime, here are some more photos from last Saturday...
I know, I'm very aware that the great artist Rodin has been an inspiration to many many people... but as a reader of this here blog, viewer of my Instagram feed or just someone who is aware of my work, you may this this is a bit of a departure for me!
When the lovely team at The British Museum asked me back to attend a breakfast preview of Rodin and the art of ancient Greece last week my first thought was that this may not be the exhibition for me. 19th Century sculpture is not something I'm really that much of a fan of, I know very little about Rodin himself, and it's a radically different style to the sort of thing I tend to go for and that which inspires my work.
But in the interests of 2018 being my year of doing different stuff and trying new things I decided to say yes... I set myself the challenge of finding inspiration for my colourful work in a monochromatic exhibition of figurative sculpture!
I think I therefore went in with the right attitude. There's no denying that The British Museum know how to put on a good exhibition. The space has been transformed since my last visit and has a spacious, light atmosphere. I enjoyed seeing a playful, almost Dada-esque scupture on arrival featuring a female head with the Parthenon springing from the top, and throughout the exhibition I enjoyed the pieces which had more abstract qualities. The architectural link obviously appealed to me too, even if the architecture in question isn't quite to my taste.
As I left the exhibition with little germs of ideas buzzing around, I entered the shop and spotted a rather lovely range of textiles inspired by the works on display, but with a mid-century look. This led me to the conculsion that someone else was also inspired by something which was a little out of character for their design style. I'm going to let the ideas stew in my head for a while and see if I can come up with anything!
Rodin and the art of ancient Greece is at the British Museum until 29 July 2018. I was invited to attend a free preview, but this is not a sponsored post.
I can't be without a project for long! I made the decision at the end of my 365 project that I wouldn't put too much pressure on myself to do anything big like that this year, but seeing everyone's 100 Day Projects happening at the moment had me itching to do something!
After the success of my little Croydon zine (still a couple left here) I hit on the idea of drawing a building for every letter of the alphabet, and so the A-Z of British Buildings was born! At the time of writing I've completed C and I'm about to embark on D - this isn't a daily project as such (although at times I'll probably post one a day) and I haven't set myself a time limit - but I would like to get it done before open studios at the end of June.
I do have plans for the majority of the letters (there isn't a UK town or City begining with X though so if anyone has any ideas for that please shout!!) but if there's somewhere in particular you'd like to see me draw please let me know. I've already had a couple of requests including the building below.
Keep your eyes on my Instagram account where I'm posting all of the images and check back here for updates along the way!
The main point of my plan to get out more this year was to help with my total lack of inspiration. January was a funny old month, in that despite spending less time working (more time either being ill or at the gym - unsure as to whether these two are connected) and not getting out anywhere near as much as I'd wanted, the inspiration was forthcoming to the extent that it was a little overwhelming at times.
Not content with this though, I really do need to get out and see exhibitions and generally do stuff, even if the ideas are just tucked away in a notebook for the time being (as there's bound to be another drought at some point!).
Having failed miserably to make it to the Rachel Whiteread exhibition at Tate Britain before it closed, I was determined to drag my sorry self up to Dulwich Picture Gallery to see Tove Jansson.
Tove was famous for creating the rather magical Moomins, but they were only a part of her wider work...
The exhibition closed on 28 January (so sorry if you're reading this and are now desperate to visit!). It was very very busy (on a Friday morning in term time...) but just wonderful. I found the range of Tove's work really inspiring and it made me want to crack my paints out immediately (most specifically the gouache - I need to check what I have as a know I'm running a bit low..). I also spent time thinking about scale - perhaps working on some larger illustrations, if I can find the space in my tiny studio, and just all manner of different ideas.
So in my new spirit of experimenting with my work, I think it was quite timely. As well as making me want to do some painting, I felt inspired to do more sketching (I'm actually considering taking my sketchbook to a cafe this afternoon but I'm not sure I'm brave enough for that just yet!). As a fan of drawing buildings, Dulwich itself definitey doesn't dissapoint as it's just so pretty. This house was a VERY popular post on Instagram, and I feel an illustration coming on (maybe I'll actually paint it for a change!!).
I may need a lottery win to be able to afford to live in Dulwich, but it's a lovely place for a wander, and I would have spent longer if it hadn't been so bitingly cold. There was also the lure of Gail's and the cinnamon buns, which I'm sure are meant for 2-3 people to share, but I persevered like a trooper!
I'm detemined not to let any more exhibitions pass me by this year - maybe I need to start viewing these things as work rather than just a nice day out. My lack of such experiences last year definitely showed when it came to my (lack of) new work, so...
What's next? I think it's nearly time to book Orla Kiely and I'm expecting that one to be very good/inspiring/overwhelming.
Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was on at Dulwich Picture Gallery from 25 October 2017 and closed on 28 January 2018. Next up they have a rather interesting looking exhibition of paintings from Canadian artist David Milne (from 14 February).
Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern will be at the Fashion & Textile Museum and opens on 25 May 2018.
In 2018 I will have lived in one London borough or another for 20 years (and in 2018 that will also represent half of my life - eeek!). During the last 20 years the places I love the most have changed a little but some are the same - here are a few of my favourite spots at the moment. A nice little list if you're visiting over the Christmas break!
So, in no particular order...
I'll admit I chose this first as I love this picture so much! Shoreditch is really easy to get to on the Overground from West Croydon, so I actually visit more often since we moved further out of town. Great street art, the first ever social housing (the stunning Arnold Circus - definitely worth a stroll away from the main drag), and if you walk a little further on a Sunday morning the lovely (if heaving) Columbia Road Flower Market. So many photo opportunties...
2. The Geffrye Museum
Just up the road in Hoxton is the Geffrye Museum - the Geffrye is amazing and features room sets from the 1600s to the 1990s (at this time of year it's all decorated for Christmas too!). In the summer you can take a stroll in the beautiful walled garden and almost forget you're in London.
3. The Horniman Museum
Heading back down the Ginger Line (or the Overground) you come to Forest Hill and my son's favourite place in London (or so he told me this morning!). The Horniman is a lovely spot with a brilliant natural history gallery ("I love the stuffed in animals best Mummy") including the famous walrus, and a bargantastic aquarium in the basement and lots more besides. Another lovely garden if you visit when the weather's nice too.
4. Tate Modern
I became a member of the Tate in 2000 and it's been the best investment. I haven't managed to visit as much as usual this year but I intend to remedy that in 2018! I love the new Switch House extension shown above (you need to see the stairs!) and I make full use of the members rooms as places to sit and relax to get away from it all.
5. Tate Britain
And that leads nicely onto Tate Britain - very different architectually but still completely ace. I love the Pre-Raphelites and this floor (amongst other things!).
6. The View from Alexandra Palace
Whether the view from Ally Pally is worth the trip up there is perhaps debatable but I do turn and stare in wonder ever time I visit. The view above is from the terrace at the front of the buiding but you get a pretty awesome view on the walk up the hill too - use it as an excuse to stop and catch your breath on the way up!
7. The Fashion & Textile Museum
A brilliant line-up of exhibitions in a lovely little museum. The Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey is a real gem (and also has a lovely cafe). I think this year's Josef Frank exhibition above is probably my favourite so far.
8. The Barbican
I love this place so much. Back in the day I used to run around here in my lunchbreak or after work (particularly good on a wet day as so much of it is under cover) and I stared at it from my office window. The Barbican boasts amazing Brutalist architecture, great places to eat, look at art, see shows, shop... the list goes on!
9. The South Bank
The picture above was taken just outside the Royal Festival Hall during the Mollie Makes Awards Photowalk this summer, but I love pretty much the whole stretch of the South Bank (the National Theatre being a highlight though of course). Last year for a homework project for the little man we walked (and photographed all of the bridges) from Tower Bridge to Battersea Park and there are so many great things to see and do along the way. Friends who visit London almost always get dragged along here!
Croydon is my neighbour (and yes it's a London Borough so counts!) and it's having a bit of a renaissance. When I get suburban cabin fever but don't have time to venture into town I hop on the 157 and go to Croydon instead. Boxpark isn't massively popular with all the locals but it's bringing people from all over the place so is basically a good thing, and the street art is starting to rival Shoreditch. They even had a month long Warhol festival back in September. So plenty to see and do!
Where do you like to visit in London? Anywhere a little different/off the beaten track?
Mr M and I had a lovely short break in the beautiful little city of Ljubljana last week, and as always I had no trouble spotting lots of colour and interesting architecture! Here are a few inspiring pics from our trip...
Yes, I know it's only October, but my order books are now open for Christmas commissions! This includes house portraits, other illustrations and custom cushion and lampshade orders...
Over the course of the year I've received house portrait commissons for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries - they also make a great Christmas present! With enough notice I can produce custom versions of pretty much every product I offer so do drop me a line if you have something in mind.
During the walking tour I joined a couple of weeks ago, I was asked whether I think Croydon has changed over the years. As someone who has lived next door to the place for 7 years, I've gone from pretending I live in Sutton to proudly saying I live near Croydon, so I'm pretty sure that means it has. With no offence to Sutton (which SHOULD be really nice), it has a rather depressing, run down feel and very little is happening there (even my favourite restaurant has closed down and the cinema is shut for refurbishment, so there's really no reason to go at the moment), whereas Croydon feels a little bit exciting, as if more and more good things are about to happen.
This month something pretty exciting is happening... Warhol Croydon, organised by the rather amazing, street art supporting Rise Gallery, brings together an exhibition of original Warhol artwork to the gallery itself (yes, real Andy Warhols, in Croydon) alonside an exhibition of large scale contemporary artworks inspired by the great man.
So as I mentioned, I joined one of the free guided tours and had a brilliant time, and I can really recommend you try and get yourself booked on one before the event finishes at the end of the month. Do make sure you book though - there were loads of us on a Wednesday lunchtime so I'm sure the evenings and weekends get very busy!
If you don't manage to book a tour, you can use the Warhol Croydon app and take yourself on it instead. There are also other free events available - head to the Warhol Croydon website for more information.
Well I wasn't really expecting a week in a very touristy, typical summer holiday destination to have much to inspire (and to be fair my main aim was to switch off and sit by the pool!) but find it I did. Our hotel was paricularly pleasing (with lots of blue and orange) - here are a few colourful shots taken all around the island. Enjoy!
A rare day trip out today! St Leonards is about an hour and a half away from us in South London, and while we'd visited Hastings a couple of times to go to the Jerwood Gallery, we'd never ventured down the road (and it really is just down the road - walking distance) to it's quieter neighbour.
We took a trip down there on the Sunday of the late May Bank Holiday weekend, so sadly lots of the little independent shops were shut (if you visit on a Saturday you must pop down to Kings Road - which leads up to St Leonards Warrior Square station - as there were lots of interesting little places down there) - but we made do with a colour spotting walk along the seafront to Hastings Pier (where we enjoyed a brilliant fish and chip lunch!). Here's a little photo tour...
On our second day in Bristol (see what we got up to on day 1 here) we were joined by the lovely Laura Howard (of Bugs and Fishes - you can read her blog here) who lives nearby and was able to show is around and point us in the direction of some things we may otherwise have missed. We walked for MILES (and discovered that Bristol busses are really expensive compared with London!). Here are some of the best bits...
I fell for Clifton the last time we visited - hilly but super super pretty - the sort of place you dream of living in (if you like cities anyway). Street after street of Georgian houses and lots of lovely doors! Something pretty on almost every corner so heaven for Instagrammers.
There are some really lovely shops in Clifton too and I did my Just A Card duty (plus a bit!) in Soma - a fab gallery/design shop which I could easily have spent a small fortune in (but carrying a large framed print on the train home would've been tricky!).
Then on to stationery heaven a.k.a. Papersmiths...
Where again I bought a few little bits but exercised extraordinary restraint! I pretty much wanted everything in there.
For those of you who aren't in the South West, they've just opened a store in London too...
Laura also took us to Brandon Hill where there are fantastic views of the city (sadly my photos there are less than fantastic - save this one above!) - you can climb the tower but the little man didn't like the dark, steep spiral staircase so we gave it a miss.
While we were in this part of town we also visitied the brilliant Bristol Museum & Art Gallery - a lovely spot with lots to see - defintely a place to visit if you're there on a damp day. We had a nice lunch in it's cafe.
We also went on the obligatory Bristol street art hunt - the little man is particularly interested following our recent wanderings in Croydon.
Laura headed home before tea and on the following morning the little man and I had one last explore of Spike Island before catching our train back to London.
We were really sad to leave - Bristol's such a brilliant place to vist and the atmosphere is great. Sure we'll be back soon!
Over half term, the little man and I spent a few days in Bristol. We did so much, and took so many photos that I've decided to split our trip into two posts - the second will follow in a couple of weeks' time.
So here's the first part...
I'd been to Bristol before but the little man hadn't so it was a bit of an adventure as far as he was concerned. We also took the train so needed something to keep us occupied. As he'd received an origami set for this birthday, I hit on the idea of making a heap of origami flowers on the train and then leaving them all over the place once we got there. Something nice and colourful to make people smile (and fewer things in my house so win win!).
We added a hashtag to them #happyorigamibristol but sadly none of the people who picked them up joined in with that. However when we wandered back around later they'd all gone so we were pleased!
We also took in the SS Great Britain which, while it wasn't a cheap attraction, was brilliant - and if you go back (the ticket is valid for 12 months) it's actually pretty good value. The little man got to do all sorts of things - shovelling coal, sweeping the decks - useful skills for putting him to work at home!!!
Keep your eyes peeled for my second Bristol post which will be full of street art, pretty doors and independent shops!
I spent a very long time in a one room exhibition a few weeks ago... I visited the Royal Academy and saw America after the Fall (which was very good) and the Anthony Green exhibition (which was also rather lovely, and consisted of one room) but my favourite was Futures Found: The Real and Imagined Cityscapes of Post-War Britain - of course it was.
I'm pretty sure I've never spent so long in a small, free exhibition but I read and studied everything (and the other people came and went).
The exhibition took us through the vision of a better and brighter future which the planners of the post-war era had for Britain's cities. It included lots of familiar buildings along with plenty which were new to me.
Obviously one room wasn't nearly enough, and so I had to buy the little yellow gem of a book which accompanied the exhibition...
Now it's rare for me to read a book like this from cover to cover, but having started it on the train home, that's the plan. Packed with brilliant photographs and full page write ups for the different buildings, it's a real treat.
Lots of ideas for new/old buildings for me to draw as well. All of the 35 buildings featured have either been demolished or significanty altered (for example Park Hill), so in a way it's a little sad, but a wonderful record, in every case showing the buildings at their shiny new best.
Futures Found: The Real and Imagined Cityscapes of Post-War Britain is on at the Royal Academy of Arts until 29 May 2017.
Lost Futures: The Disappearing Architecture of Post-War Britain by Owen Hopkins is published by the Royal Academy of Arts.