I won the ‘Tom of Finland Makeover’ Illustration Competition

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I recently won a competition to give a well known character a Tom of Finland makeover. Tom of Finland, (his nom de plume) was so influential in the gay community for drawing really beautiful men. His pencil work is outstanding.

The competition was to celebrate the release of the Tom of Finland movie.

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Painting my Narrowboat: 2) A whale

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I added the first whale to the design today in the late sunshine ☀️

I love whales, they’re such peaceful sentinel creatures 🐋🐳 Follow the journey with my hashtag #illustrateArcticRose 🦄 👌🏽 ☺️

 

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Neil Gaiman retweeted me!

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I went to see Neil Gaiman talking about his new book Nose Mythologies at the Southbank centre. He was a wonderful speaker and it was amazing to listen to him read a story from his book aloud.

I got to the Southbank about an hour early, so sat in their cafe and thought I’d draw a picture of Neil. I really like his face and thought he’d make a lovely character study.

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Creating Timelessness with setting – Neil Jordan’s Shade

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Creating Timelessness with setting – Neil Jordan’s Shade.

 

Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love. But men have killed for love, endlessly

 

Neil Jordan creates timelessness by weaving mythology into his novel, Shade. In this quote Jordan states the idea that similar murders happen over and over. This isn’t a new story we’re reading; it’s just the same one we’ve already heard. Continue reading

My Pussy Riot poster is a ‘third party intellectual property infringment’

So I woke up this morning to find that my Pussy Riot print in my Society 6 shop has been taken down from my Society 6 account has infringed a third party’s intellectual property. This is highly interesting, as it would go against all that Pussy Riot believe in. I first drew the poster and offered it for free around the internet for it to be used during Pussy riot’s imprisonment in 2012. I now have it in my shop as a print. You can read the email from Society 6 below:

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Putting your own experiences into fiction without writing an autobiography

 

 

We can’t help but write about ourselves. It can be incredibly cathartic to do this- being a writer has helped me though many tough periods of my life. But it can be distressing trying to write something painful directly from your own viewpoint. I’ve sometimes felt frozen, or caught up in the bad feelings that I couldn’t write a thing!
I once wrote a character and situation during a particularly troubled time in my life. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the character was saying everything I couldn’t say with my own voice. What happened is that I’d started speaking through my character, lulled into a false sense of security by my focus on her fictional life. I’ve deliberately employed this technique ever since.

 

The bottom line is that you will always put yourself into your writing and that is a good thing. You can use it to enrich your characters. No-one else has your personality, your life experience or your way of seeing the world. Mix this with a character with completely different life experiences to your own and you’ll create something magical.

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Saturday Queerfish making

I’ve gathered new materials and I’m making Queerfish again.

I’ve always loved this project, and I’m planning to create a new installation piece incorporating the sculptures and writing work. I visualise the Queerfish hung around the walls and ceiling, surrounded by drawings of the project and ocean sounds. I’d also love to have the short story printed on the wall, or maybe read out while people are looking at the sculptures.

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Poppy (WIP)

I’ve never liked to be in complete darkness, so when I first saw the Milky Way in 1910, I thought, I could sleep soundly if I was in the middle of all of those stars.
The 1920s were dark until I was allowed to come back into the light of civilised drawing rooms. I’d been ill they said, to explain my gaunt cheeks, and shadows; were love had been, curled under my eyes and refused to go.

I travelled into the future and light spread before me. I watched candlelight replaced by Edison’s electric bulb. Some said electricity was witchcraft and full of dangerous vapours, and I thought if it was, then I was intoxicated. I watched the Industrial Revolution with as much fervour as a nation being set free from beneath a shadow.
I followed it to Chicago, 1933, where crowded in the Hall of Science courtyard, the crowd was so electric that I believed that we could light a star. Arcturus had travelled from 1893, a time traveller like me, and when they pointed their photocells at him, he obliged by producing a great white beam that cut across like sky like hope.
I came to London in 1984. 24 hour laundrettes and cafes. I stood at Piccadilly Circus at midnight. Neon signs and illuminated playhouses fed me like dining at the Ritz every night. All the lights burned in the big cities, where street lamps, scattered by dust and gas molecules made the sky glow and kept darkness at bay 365 days a year.
The BBC national anthem in 1994 was like saying goodbye to a friend, to the light, to people, every night. I felt abandoned. I went further out.
In 2050, people shut lights off because of light pollution, then in 2060, people went all the way out to live in the darkness of space. The lights went out on Earth one by one and I was alone again. I tried floodlight therapy but felt like a fragile sea creature having submarine lights shone on it for the first time.
When Sanderson regulated time travelling, I chose to be anchored in 2009. I found a job as a nurse and took the nightshift. The hospital, lit up in fluorescent lights like an all year round Christmas tree, protected me until each morning arrived as pink and wondrous as a newborn.

 

 

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Homework 3 part 1- fake memoir

My MA class this week was led by the wonderful Hannah Lowe. Hannah is a poet and her recent book ‘Chick’ was published by Bloodaxe.

She helped us to explore confessional poetry and particularly, the elements that make our work seem real. She brought up an interesting point about poetry and truth; we naturally assume poetry is truthful, but she helped us see that it can be embellished or just plain made up like prose.
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Homework 2 – Scepter’d isle

This week’s MA homework was to pick any world nation, then pick a national monument, and have a character become lost in the vision of an ideal version of their country… then be brought back down to earth with a bump. I went a bit left field again.

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The house has a lonely grandness about it as it looms like a chalk cliff against the grey sky. A red, white and blue flag snaps loudly in the wind.

I tug my wool coat around me; but the chill penetrates my stocking clad legs. A man apologises in a southern drawl as he leans over me to take a photo. I wish I could wrap myself in his warm Tennessee vowels. Continue reading

Homework 1 – I’m a writer

The written assignment on my MA this week was a piece exploring ourselves as writers and I went a bit left field. I don’t like writing from my own voice- I find I can be more honest from a fictional perspective. ‘Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth,’ said Oscar Wilde. (So… blogging will be fun! I’m currently writing a non fiction book with memoir elements, so it’s something I’m working up to.)

I’m a writer; which for me means that I pretend to be other people. I don’t have my own ‘voice’. So, I put some of my characters to work and had them do my homework for me. Here are a few of them discussing me as a writer, or omipresent God character intruding on their worlds. It was interesting hearing what they thought of me as a writer/person/diety- I’d recommend it as a writing exercise.
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How *not* to write dialogue: Into the Storm (2014)

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So I watched Into the Storm this week. I’m morbidly interested in tornados- I have a life plan that includes if I’m ever terminally ill, I’d like to go become a storm chaser. What a way to die.
I was so excited to see this at the cinema as I’ve missed watching other great disaster movies on the big screen. But from the first moment Richard Armitage and his family started talking, I was cringing in my little foldable seat. Poor Richard Armitage, who I know from his other films as a broodingly nuanced performer!

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I learnt very early in my writing career that if you give actors bad dialogue, nothing can save it. I was in my first year of a film degree and I’d submitted my script to be read by real actors, and each bad line had me dying a little inside.
The moral of this story is to read your dialogue out loud. Hell, read your entire novel/script/play out loud.

And if you still don’t believe me, watch this film.

 

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I can’t even answer you because I find your dialogue so unbelievable that you’ve broken the fourth wall!

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof analysis

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I’m currently working on my series of Tennessee Williams alternative book covers. As I was plotting out the imagery for the cover of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, I’ve ended up putting Paul Newman, my favourite and a classic Brick, front and centre. As I sat there looking at my scanned drawing it occurred to me that normally it’s Elizabeth Taylor, or Maggie, that’s front stage on the book cover. (I’d argue that this is partly because she’s a woman, and her partly dressed body sells theatre & film tickets, and books.)  Also, we assume Maggie is the cat- she herself says she feels like a cat on a hot tin roof, and her victory is staying on as long as she can. Continue reading

My work desk

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I love to see people’s work spaces, I love seeing what they surround themselves with when they work. Mine doesn’t always (ever?) stay neat, but during a rare tidy up I thought I’d document where I work. The desk came from a skip in London and I added some Ikea legs to it, painted it green and decoupaged it with a pile of Japanese male fashion magazines.

My cats also keep me company- the black fluffy one is Severus and the tabby is Luna :)

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Bjork Swan Dress DIY & Pride Float Design

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My choir, Rainbow Chorus, had a float this year for Brighton Pride. We had a week to get the float designed and implemented. We chose Pop Icons as our theme. I’d recently lent a hand in re-branding the choir with a new colour scheme, so I chose a sexy new desaturated theme for our float to match.

We had a small grant from the Rainbow Fund (thank you!), and I saved a lot by choosing to use leftover household paint on leatherette fabric. I chose a simple but bold design, and spent most of my time cutting out the stencil of our Top of the Pops esque logo.
The full set of pictures are up on flickr here.

My second project that week was my Bjork dress for the float. I’ve often been told I resemble Bjork due to my round Polish features and I’ve always admired her as an artist. What a great opportunity to make and wear her infamous Swan dress! I basically built it around a nude coloured vest top with layers of recycled net curtains layered with white voile. I made the swan head like you’d make a soft toy swan, and blended it as best I could with the voile.

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Our Parents’ Armour – Animation Workshop

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I took part in the creation of an animation project led by animator Evan Wilkinson. I came in for two sessions as an illustrator and fellow animator to talk about character design.

This is the final result of a mixed media animation project at The Connaught School in Aldershot, for Hampshire County Council and Strong Island Media.

‘Our Parents’ Armour’ is a poem that is written and animated by young people from The Connaught School, who are all children of military personnel. They created a suit of armour for their parents out of memories of home and messages of support. This project was funded by the MOD Community Covenant and formed part of the Hampshire Forces Film Festival.  Nine groups took part in the project, each making an animation about life in the MOD.

A documentary about the making of these films can be seen at http://hampshireyouthforcesfilms.co.uk

For more information about Evan and his workshops and projects please visit http://evanwilkinson.co.uk

Bearology Artisan Dolls

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Here are the new Artisan dolls I’ve created for my ongoing serialisation, Bearology.

They’re handsewn based on original character designs from the book. It was a challenge sewing them to look like the illustrations, but wonderful to see them in 3D! I think Smoke looks very handsome in his uniform, and it was a good reason to rewatch Due South to examine Mountie uniforms (Did you guess that I’m a Due South fan?).

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Sketchbook

I’m a natural sketcher and I work best fast and loose. I always feel like I lose the feeling of the piece if I trace a neater version.

Although I get a real buzz from polished finished pieces, I often feel prouder of my loose pencil scribbles.

I’ll upload what I’m currently working on in here, along with older work from the archives.

 

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Fabric & Pattern design

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Here are a selection of original patterns I’ve created. Quite often, they start as original artwork or sketching, that I then convert into a pattern.

Many of these are available as fabrics at my spoonflower store. I also use the fabrics in my own textile products.